Experimental and Applied Acarology
Copulation in I. scapularis involves physical contact between the male and female (on or off the host), male mounting the female, insertion/maintenance of the male chelicerae in the female genital pore (initiates spermatophore production), and the transfer of the spermatophore by the male into the female genital pore. Bioassays determined that male mounting behavior/chelicerae insertion required direct contact with the female likely requiring non-volatile chemical cues with no evidence of a female volatile sex pheromone to attract males. Unfed virgin adult females and replete mated adult females elicited the highest rates of male chelicerae insertion with part fed virgin adult females exhibiting a much lower response. Whole body surface hexane extracts of unfed virgin adult females and males, separately analyzed by GC-MS, identified a number of novel tick surface associated compounds: fatty alcohols (1-hexadecanol and 1-heptanol), a fatty amide (erucylamid), aromatic hydrocarbons, a short chain alkene (1 heptane), and a carboxylic acid ester (5β-androstane). These compounds are discussed in terms of their potential role in female-male communication. The two most abundant fatty esters found were butyl palmitate and butyl stearate present in ratios that were sex specific. Only 6 n-saturated hydrocarbons were identified in I. scapularis ranging from 10-18 carbons.
Original Publication Citation
Carr, A. L., Sonenshine, D. E., Strider, J. B., & Roe, R. M. (2016). Evidence of female sex pheromones and characterization of the cuticular lipids of unfed, adult male versus female blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 68(4), 519-538. doi:10.1007/s10493-015-0009-y
Carr, Ann L.; Sonenshine, Daniel E.; Strider, John B. Jr.; and Roe, R. Michael, "Evidence of Female Sex Pheromones and Characterization of the Cuticular Lipids of Unfed, Adult Male Versus Female Blacklegged Ticks, Ixodes scapularis" (2016). Biological Sciences Faculty Publications. 234.