Ticks & Hosts in Endemic Area

J Med Entomol. 2005 Nov;42(6):966-73.

Host associations of Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) in residential and natural settings in a Lyme disease-endemic area in New Jersey.

Schulze TL1, Jordan RA, Schulze CJ.

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We live-trapped small mammals and flagged vegetation within wooded natural and residential landscapes to examine how any observed differences in small mammal species composition may influence Ixodes scapularis Say burdens and the abundance of host-seeking ticks.

Two years of live trapping showed that Eastern chipmunks, Tamias striatus, were captured with significantly greater frequency in some residential areas than white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus, whereas the proportion of white-footed mouse captures was higher or similar to chipmunk captures in the undeveloped natural areas.

Both mice and chipmunks seemed to adapt well to managed residential landscapes, with residential sites yielding similar or significantly greater numbers of captures compared with undeveloped sites.

In areas where chipmunk captures outnumbered mice, larval tick burdens on mice were either higher or no different than in areas where few or no chipmunks were captured, in contrast to previous studies suggesting that alternate hosts should reduce larval burdens on mice.

Chipmunks apparently play an important role in the Lyme disease transmission cycle in these residential settings.