We examined host usage and seasonal activity patterns of the nymphal stage of the ticks Ixodes kingi and I. sculptus within a prairie rodent community in north-central Colorado. Ixodes kingi was commonly encountered on both northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster) and thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus), whereas I. sculptus frequently infested S. tridecemlineatus but was absent from O. leucogaster. Low numbers of ticks of both species were collected from deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and Ord's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ordii). Nymphal loads of I. kingi and I. sculptus increased dramatically on commonly infested rodent species from spring (May-June) to summer (July-August). Further, rodents trapped on prairie-dog towns tended to experience increased nymphal loads of I. kingi (O. leucogaster, S. tridecemlineatus) but decreased loads of I. sculptus (S. tridecemlineatus) following plague epizootics among prairie dog populations. A summary of published North American host records revealed that I. kingi has been recorded from humans, domestic animals (cat, dog), 17 species of carnivores, 40 species of rodents, and four species of lagomorphs, and that I. sculptus has been recorded from humans, domestic animals (cat, dog, goat), 13 species of carnivores, 34 species of rodents, and three species of lagomorphs. In accordance with our observations from Colorado, I. kingi commonly has been found to infest heteromyid and murid rodents (such as grasshopper mice), whereas I. sculptus most frequently has been collected from ground-dwelling sciurid rodents, especially Spermophilus ground squirrels. The potential roles of I. kingi and I. sculptus as enzootic vectors of human pathogens, particularly the agents of tularemia (Francisella tularensis), Q fever (Coxiella burnetii), and Colorado tick fever (CTF virus), are discussed.
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