Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Newsletter (it's free!)
The developmental timing of Ixodes pacficus Cooley & Kohls, the primary vector of the
Lyme disease spirochete and the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis in the far-western United States, was determined under field and laboratory conditions. During their seasonal peaks of abundance, each of the three parasitic stages of L. pacificus, both fed and unfed, was placed inside silk-screen packets. These packets were apportioned between four topographic exposures of two hilltop sites in northwestern California. The sites differed in vegetational composition and elevation: the first (elevation 390 m) was dominated by woodland-grass, the second (elevation 914 m) by chaparral. The timing of oviposition, larval eclosion, molting, and mortality were recorded in the field every 2-3 wk for 2.5 yr. Microenvironmental temperatures were measured on all four exposures at both sites. Accelerated developmental rates of all three stages were correlated with warmer soil temperatures and the time of placement in the field. In the laboratory, replete female I. pacificus maintained under uniform environmental conditions sustained constant preovipositional and prehatch periods independent of date-of-feeding. In the field, all unfed stages survived through one active feeding season with most larvae and nymphs remaining in behavioral diapause between late summer and early spring. No life stage survived through two active feeding periods which suggests that cohorts do not overlap. We concluded that I. pacificus takes a minimum of 3 yr to complete its life cycle in northwestern California.