• host-searching;
  • lone star tick;
  • population biology;
  • spatial distribution;
  • survival;
  • U.S.A

Abstract.  The population density of host-searching nymphal and adult lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae), was determined at the Robinson tract of the Kansas Ecological Reserves and a private farm 5 km north-west of the Robinson tract using standard drag cloth methods. Nymphs, males and females were counted and collected weekly from shaded habitats and adjacent sunlit habitats from mid-May through late July, 2003. Of the 1598 nymphs and 549 males collected by drag sampling, 74.0% and 72.1%, respectively, were collected from shaded sections of the habitats, whereas 77.3% of 472 females were found in sunlit sections. A. americanum collected during each sampling period were maintained unfed at >95% relative humidity and a 14 : 10 h photoperiod, and survival was recorded weekly until all ticks had died. Survival of nymphs, males and females did not differ between ticks collected in the shade vs. those collected in the sun. Nymphs survived significantly longer than adults, whereas male and female survival did not differ from each other. These results suggest that host-searching A. americanum populations may partition their environment to increase the chances of coming into contact with a potential vertebrate host.