Volume 53, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



To clarify the role of nymphal versus adult western black-legged ticks () in the epidemiology of Lyme disease, the seasonal distribution, abundance, and spirochetal infection rates in these stages, and the seasonal occurrence of ticks biting humans and of incident cases of Lyme disease were determined in northern California. Although their seasonal activity periods overlapped for about one-third of the year, nymphs and adults predominated in different seasons, the former from late spring to summer and the latter from fall to early spring. At one site, four (4%) of 100 adults from low vegetation bordering a hardwood forest and 44 (13.6%) of 324 nymphs from leaf litter in the forest were found to contain . Biting-collection records revealed that nymphs attach to people more commonly than recognized previously; nymphs comprised 12.5% of 967 ticks of various species and stages and 42% of all nymphs submitted for identification. Attachments by nymphs occurred primarily between April and August, which coincided with the seasonal occurrence of most incident cases of Lyme disease. Collectively, these findings strongly implicate the nymphal stage of as the primary vector of to humans in this region.


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