The prevalence and abundance of immature Ixodes pacificus ticks on western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) were examined in relation to time of year, host attributes (i.e., age, gender, and presence or absence of blood parasites), and 5 environmental characteristics, including topographic exposure and ground cover substrate, over a 2-year period in northern California. Lizards were infested with subadult ticks from early March until late July or early August, with peak median numbers of larvae and nymphs recorded in late April and early May of both years. Peak larval and nymphal abundances differed between years. The overall ratio of larvae to nymphs on adult male lizards was low, ranging from 0.80 in 1999 to 2.41 in 2000. Such intensive feeding of nymphs versus larvae on these lizards, which are reservoir-incompetent for Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes, may explain previous observations of decreasing spirochetal infection prevalence from the nymphal to adult stage in northwestern California. Adult male lizards were more likely to be infested with nymphs and harbored greater abundances of larvae and nymphs than adult females. Lizards uninfected with blood parasites had more nymphs than infected lizards. The measured environmental characteristics could explain only a small percentage of the total variation observed in larval prevalence (22%) and in larval and nymphal abundance (12 and 3%, respectively).
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