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Nocturnal detachment of the tick Ixodes hexagonus from nocturnally active hosts.

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Abstract

To determine whether the pattern of engorgement of Ixodes hexagonus Leach (Acarina: Ixodidae) in Central Europe may influence host specificity, the host relationships of the sub-adult stages of this tick were examined and the time of detachment compared with the activity patterns of various candidate vertebrate hosts. The main hosts for I. hexagonus appear to be hedgehog and fox. This tick species seems to be incapable of feeding on any rodent commonly encountered in the study region, or on reptiles or birds. Virtually all of these ticks detach during the scotophase, becoming replete mainly during the late evening and early morning hours, regardless of the kind of host or of the time of attachment. These nocturnally detaching ticks, paradoxically, focus their feeding on nocturnally active hedgehogs and foxes, in spite of the possibility that such behaviour might cause them to disperse from the nests of the host. Dispersion is prevented, however, by the tendency of these ticks to detach while their host naps. The tick-host association of I. hexagonus with hedgehogs may serve to perpetuate such zoonotic, Ixodes-borne infections as
Lyme disease.

Med Vet Entomol. 1990 Oct;4(4):415-20. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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