Asynchronous questing behavior of Ixodes scapularis (Blacklegged ticks)

Caroline Cohen


Questing behavior in Blacklegged ticks has always been an elusive behavior for entomologists to understand. Questing can be defined as a tick that is waiting on top of leaf litter or on a plant for a blood-meal to pass by. Our research sought to answer the question; Are all ticks questing at the same time? This behavior was analysed and observed through a rigorous sampling technique that took place over many days of the summer of 2020 on URI’s East Farm. Two hundred twenty 0.3m PVC arenas were each meticulously seeded with 50 lab raised ticks which were then sampled with wooden pressboards covered in flannel bonnets. Sampling allows us to collect questing ticks to get an accurate estimate of ticks exhibiting this behavior. Through these samples, we concluded that no, not all ticks are questing at the same time. Approximately 35-50% of ticks are questing at once which means that 50-65% of ticks are hidden under leaf litter or plants. This research is important because by understanding more about this behavior, the public can be better informed on how to properly protect themselves from the dangers tick borne diseases pose to the human race. There is a need for more research to be conducted in this field in order to determine what factors, specially climatic, influence and control this behavior.