Infestation of mammals by Ixodes ricinus ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in south-central Sweden
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Infestation by Ixodes ricinus ticks on rodents, hares and cervids was examined at Bogesund, 10 km north of Stockholm, in south-central Sweden during 1991-1994 and on varying hares (Lepus timidus) at Stora Karlso and Gotska Sandon in the Baltic Sea during 1992-1993. At Bogesund, there were great differences between two consecutive years in the number of I. ricinus larvae infesting bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus). The seasonal pattern of infestation by I. ricinus larvae and nymphs on bank voles was unimodal in 1991, with peaks in June-July and bimodal in 1992, with peaks in June and August. Male bank voles, compared to females and older voles, compared to young voles, harboured greater numbers of I. ricinus ticks. Apodemus mice, compared to bank voles, harboured greater numbers of I. ricinus ticks. Ixodes ricinus larvae engorged on Apodemus mice were heavier than larvae engorged on bank voles and resulted in larger nymphs. However, there was no difference in the proportions of viable nymphs resulting from larvae engorged on mice or voles. The ranges in the numbers of I. ricinus ticks infesting individual hosts were 1-451 for rodents, 16-2374 for hares and 428-2072 for roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). These ranges of tick numbers are estimated to represent potential blood losses from individual hosts of approximately 0.2-65% for rodents, 0.2-13% for hares and 0.3-9.0% for roe deer. Within the populations of all host species examined, the distributions of all stages of I. ricinus were clumped, with most host individuals harbouring few ticks and only a few individuals harbouring many ticks. The data suggest that, even though a small proportion of tick hosts may be severely affected, the direct effects of feeding by I. ricinus are unlikely to play an important role on mammal population dynamics.
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