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Observation of Tick Parasitism on Scincella lateralis in Texas

Brittany A. Cornell1, Luis M. López Salazar1, Alyssa B. Russell1, Juan D. Daza1, and Jeremy Bechelli1,*

1Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University, 2000 Avenue I, Life Sciences Building, Huntsville, TX 77341. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Issue 3 (2021): 420–426

Cases of Ixodes scapularis (Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick) are known to infest a variety of lizard species including Scincella lateralis (Ground Skink). We report the finding of 1 Ground Skink with an attached immature tick, later identified as an engorged Blacklegged Tick nymph, in a population with a low rate of tick infestation. Of the 151 Ground Skinks we collected at the Piney Woods Environmental Laboratory, only 1 was parasitized by any tick species. We extracted whole-body tick DNA and tested for various bacterial pathogens, including Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia spp., Borrelia spp., and Rickettsia spp. PCR tests for these pathogens were negative except for Rickettsia spp. Within our sampling region of Walker County, TX, in the East Texas Piney Woods, we estimated the infestation prevalence of Blacklegged Ticks utilizing Ground Skinks as a host at 0.66%, much lower than previous estimations in Oklahoma.

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