Ixodes dammini, the vector of
Lyme disease and babesiosis, is distributed in various locations in the northeastern quadrant of the United States and nearby Canada. The life cycle of this tick, which includes larval, nymphal, and adult stages, spans at least two years. The tick over-winters between larval and nymphal feeding. Horizontal transmission of pathogens is facilitated by a feeding pattern in which both the larval and nymphal stages feed on the white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus, and by a seasonal pattern of activity in which nymphs precede larvae. The species range appears to have expanded from a single island location, and has invaded new sites since the 1940s, some as recently as 1980. This increased abundance appears to be related to the increased abundance of deer, the preferred host of the adult stage. I. muris predominated in coastal Massachusetts before I. dammini became abundant, but is probably now extinct. I. scapularis, which is present in the southern U.S., is a poor vector of mouse parasites because about 90 percent of these immature ticks feed on lizards. To the extent that horizontal transmission occurs, we suggest that mice serve as the principal reservoir for the
Lyme spirochete as well as Babesia microti.