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Absence of spirochaetes (Borrelia burgdorferi) and piroplasms (Babesia microti) in deer ticks (Ixodes dammini) parasitized by chalcid wasps (Hunterellus hookeri).

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An entomophagous wasp (Hunterellus hookeri Howard) parasitizes about a third of the host-seeking nymphal Ixodes dammini Spielman et al. ticks on Naushon Island in Massachusetts (U.S.A.) where the agents of
Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson et al.) and human babesiosis (Babesia microti Franca) are enzootic. Following blood-feeding, wasp-parasitized ticks are destroyed by the developing wasp. The prevalence of either human pathogen in host-seeking ticks collected in wasp-infested sites is nearly 40% lower than that found in other sites. Nymphal ticks, collected early in their season of activity, are more frequently parasitized by the wasp and less frequently by the
Lyme disease spirochaete than those collected later in the summer. Spirochaetes never infected wasp-infected ticks, and few wasp-infected ticks were concurrently infected by the Babesia piroplasm. Taken together, these correlations indicate that the wasp may render the tick inhospitable to both pathogens. The presence of the wasp may have reduced risk of human infection on the island by either pathogen by as much as a third.

Med Vet Entomol. 1987 Jan;1(1):3-8. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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