The relative potential for a person accidentally acquiring host-seeking nymphs of the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say, and lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.), while wearing either of two types of footwear, walking, crawling on hands and knees, and sitting on large fallen logs in deciduous woods, was evaluated. Although flag samples indicated substantial populations of I. scapularis nymphs and low to moderate numbers of A. americanum at the study sites, relatively few I. scapularis and fewer still A. americanum nymphs were acquired during 30-s and 5-min walks. Significantly fewer I. scapularis were picked up when boots were worn with ankles taped (an anti-tick precaution) than when sneakers were worn with socks exposed during 5-min walks, but when thus attired, there was no significant difference between the number of nymphs acquired during 30-s walks. Nymphs of I. scapularis did not appear to accumulate incrementally on footwear or clothing during walks when boots were worn and ankles taped. Crawling for 30 s (≈3 m distance) yielded significantly more I. scapularis nymphs than walking for 30 s. During crawling, I. scapularis nymphs were picked up on 58% of the 30-s samples. Most ticks picked up during crawls were on pant legs. When a flannel flag cloth (0.5 by 0.5 m) was appressed to the upper surface of logs suitable to be sat upon by tired hikers, I. scapularis nymphs were found on 87% of the logs and in 36% of the samples. These data indicate that the potential for contact with host-seeking nymphs of I. scapularis occurring at these densities is greatly elevated by engaging in activities that involve contact with fallen logs and close contact of hands and knees with leaf litter.
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Vol. 38 • No. 4