Ixodes scapularis (Ixodida: Ixodidae) Parasitizing an Unlikely Host: Big Brown Bats, Eptesicus fuscus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae), in New York State, USA
Ixodes scapularis Say is a three-host tick that has been recorded feeding on over 150 different species of terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, birds, and reptiles). This tick is found throughout the northeastern, coastal southeastern, and upper midwestern United States and is considered the most significant vector of tick-borne pathogens to humans in North America. Despite its ubiquity and broad host range, I. scapularis previously has not been reported feeding on bats (Chiroptera). However, during 2019 and 2020, larvae and nymphs of I. scapularis were recovered from big brown bats, Eptesicus fuscus (Palisot de Beauvois), at four locations in rural New York State, USA. All Ixodes infested bats were injured and found on the ground; therefore, parasitism by I. scapularis was likely opportunistic. Nonetheless, the large number of pathogens known to be associated with bats and the frequency with which I. scapularis bites people suggest that this host–tick relationship is of at least potential epidemiological significance.