The first technique for repeatedly sampling individual Ixodes scapularis adult ticks was developed and validated. Gut samples from the same individual ticks were removed and analyzed at weekly intervals. Multiple analyses were conducted on each gut sample (e.g., total protein concentration, presence of viable B. burgdorferi spirochetes, and concentration of outer surface protein A [OspA]). Female I. scapularis survived for up to 25 d after gut sampling. Seventy-five percent of females oviposited after the sampling procedure, with 14% of ticks laying >1,500 eggs. No significant differences in either fecundity or length of survival were found between B. burgdorferi–infected and uninfected I. scapularis. This technique will enable longitudinal studies on both tick–pathogen interactions and physiological studies that have hitherto not been attempted.
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Vol. 41 • No. 4