Preliminary survey for entomopathogenic fungi associated with Ixodes scapularis>/i> (Acari: Ixodidae) in southern New York and New England, USA

Journal of Medical Entomology

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Free-living larval, nymphal, and adult Ixodes scapularis Say were collected from scattered locales in southern New England and New York to determine infection rates with entomopathogenic fungi. Infection rates of larvae, nymphs, males, and females were 0% (571), 0% (272), 0% (57), and 4.3% (47), respectively. Two entomopathogenic fungi were isolated from field-collected I. scapularis females from Fire Island, NY. Isolates were identified as Verticillium lecanii (Zimmermann) Viegas and Verticillium sp. (a member of the Verticillium lecanii species complex).

Ixodes scapularis Say is the principal vector of Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner (Burgdorfer et al. 1982, Johnson et al. 1984), the etiologic agent of Lyme disease in the northeastern and upper-midwestern United States. Control of I. scapularis is based on chemical treatment (Mather et al. 1987b; Schulze et al. 1987, 1991), environmental management (Wilson et al. 1988, Schulze et al. 1995), and habitat modification (Wilson 1986). These methods have shown variable success, and some potentially have negative environmental effects (Wilson and Deblinger 1993, Ginsberg 1994).

Studies concerning natural predators, parasitoids, and pathogens of I. scapularis are rare. The use of ground-dwelling birds as tick predators has had only limited success (Duffy et al. 1992). Nymphal I. scapularis are often infected with the parasitic wasp Ixodiphagus hookeri (Howard) (Mather et al. 1987a, Hu et al. 1993, Stafford et al. 1996, Hu and Hyland 1997), but this wasp does not effectively control I. scapularis populations (Stafford et al. 1996). The entomopathogenic nematodes Steinernema carpocapsae (Weiser) and S. glaseri (Steiner) are pathogenic only to engorged female I. scapularis, and thus have limited applicability (Zhioua et al. 1995). In contrast, the entomogenous fungus Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschnikoff) Sorokin is highly pathogenic to all stages of I. scapularis, unfed as well as engorged, and thus has considerable potential as a microbial control agent (Zhioua et al. 1997).

European studies have suggested that entomopathogenic fungi might serve as natural controls of of Ixodes ricinus L. populations (Samsinakova et al. 1974, Eilenberg et al. 1991, Kalsbeek et al. 1995). In the current study, we describe the isolation of entomopathogenic fungi from field-collected I. scapularis.

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Journal Article
Preliminary survey for entomopathogenic fungi associated with Ixodes scapularis>/i> (Acari: Ixodidae) in southern New York and New England, USA
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Journal of Medical Entomology
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Oxford University Press
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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
3 p.
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