Relative importance of lizards and mammals as hosts for ixodid ticks in northern California

  • Leslie Casher
  • Robert Lane
  • Reginald Barrett
  • Lars Eisen


Lizards and mammals were trapped and examined for ticks from August 1992 to June 1993 in two habitat types, chaparral and woodland-grass, in northern California. Five tick species were collected from mammals (Dermacentor occidentalis, Haemaphysalis leporispalustris, Ixodes pacificus, I. spinipalpis, I. woodi), but only I. pacificus was found on lizards. Dermacentor occidentalis, I. pacificus, and I. woodi occurred in both habitats, whereas H. leporispalustris and I. spinipalpis were found only on animals trapped in chaparral. The tick species most commonly encountered on mammals was D. occidentalis in chaparral and I. pacificus in woodland-grass. Peak infestation of mammals occurred in spring for I. pacificus immatures and H. leporispalustris, summer for D. occidentalis immatures, fall through spring for I. woodi immatures, and fall through winter for I. spinipalpis. The primary aim of the study was to quantify the relative importance of the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), which is reservoir-incompetent for Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.), and mammalian B.burgdorferi s.l.-reservoirs as hosts for the immature stages of I. pacificus in spring. The estimated relative utilization by I. pacificus of the western fence lizard versus mammals was 88% for larvae and 99% for nymphs in chaparral in May. When tick infestation data were corrected for a two-fold lower efficiency of field examinations for rodents than for lizards, the western fence lizard still accounted for 78% of larval and 98% of nymphal feedings. In woodland-grass, 46% of 100 I. pacificus larvae and 100% of 52 nymphs recovered from mammals or western fence lizards during May-June were collected from the lizards. However, this may represent an underestimate of the importance of the western fence lizard as a larval host in this habitat because inclement weather during the late May sampling period doubtless resulted in significantly decreased lizard activity. In conclusion, the western fence lizard was more heavily utilized by I. pacificus immatures, especially nymphs, than were rodents.

Borrelia burgdorferi California Ixodes pacificuIxodid ticks Lizards Mammals 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Casher
    • 1
  • Robert Lane
    • 1
  • Reginald Barrett
    • 1
  • Lars Eisen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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