Sperm precedence in the deer tick Ixodes dammini


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ABSTRACT We determined whether female deer ticks Ixodes dammini Spielman, Clifford, Piesman & Corwin (Acari: Ixodidae) can be inseminated repeatedly and whether sperm from first or second matings take precedence in fertilizing eggs. Such information is essential to the design of attempts to reduce the fertility of these vectors of Lyme disease. Although spermatophores are present in about half of questing female ticks, they are present in virtually all those found on deer; the abundance of males on deer exceeds that of females and copulation is common. Females must be inseminated before commencing the rapid engorgement phase of feeding. Males need not be in attendance during feeding, provided that the female has been inseminated preprandially. Thus, preprandial insemination suffices to stimulate rapid engorgement, but less blood is taken than when the female is perprandially inseminated. Both types of insemination effectively fertilize eggs. Eggs from females sequentially inseminated by irradiated and non irradiated males, were fertilized mainly by sperm from the last male. Cobalt‐irradiated males mate effectively and their sperm compete with those of non‐irradiated males. Sperm from the second two sequential inseminations fertilize most of the eggs. By infesting deer with such irradiated male I.dammini, the abundance of these vector ticks may effectively be reduced.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Ixodes dammini
  • Lyme disease
  • fertility control
  • sperm precedence


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