Monitoring tick infestation of wildlife provides baseline tick
occurrence data that may have human or animal health implications. We collected 312 ticks of four species from 5,122 birds of 93 species while monitoring bird migration during 15 fall and spring seasons between 2011 and 2019 in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Twenty-seven of 93 bird species hosted ticks with an overall prevalence (=at least one tick) of 3.6% (185/5,122). Median burden was one tick/per infested bird with a range of 1-16 ticks per infested bird. Tick species collected were primarily Haemaphysalis leporispalustris (Packard) and Ixodes scapularis Say, with smaller numbers of Ixodes dentatus Marx and a single Ixodes brunneus (Koch). The prevalence of avian infestations by I. scapularis increased over the eight-year study period (P = 0.046) to a high of over 4.6% infestation by I. scapularis in 2019. Based on the migratory status of birds, our data suggest that birds transported ticks to our site from northern or southern areas. Additionally, based on bird recapture data during stopover periods at our site, we detected new tick infestations in 27 of 437 birds that had ticks removed on initial capture. These reinfestations potentially reflect bird’s local acquisition of ticks, such as I. scapularis. This indicates that I. scapularis is becoming established in the region, which appears to be on the leading edge of this tick’s expanding range in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Birds may be contributing to the establishment by contributing and possibly introducing and maintaining the ticks. Birds may be transporting ticks and seeding them elsewhere.
Scharf, William c.; Aukland, Lisa; Shugart, Gary W.; and Hamer, Sarah A.
"Occurrence of Ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) on Birds in Northwestern Lower Michigan, 2011-2019,"
The Great Lakes Entomologist, vol 53
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/tgle/vol53/iss2/8