Comparison of ectoparasite communities of sylvatic and urban wild mesomammals and unowned community cats in north-central Florida. Academic Article uri icon


  • The adaptation of wildlife species to urban environments can drive changes in the ecology of ectoparasites and vector-borne disease. To better understand ectoparasite dynamics in an urban environment, we investigated the ectoparasite communities of 183 sylvatic and urban opossums and raccoons captured across four seasons at a rural research station and within the city of Gainesville, FL, and of 115 community cats from the Gainesville, FL area. Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae), Dermacentor variabilis (Say), and Ixodes texanus Banks were collected from raccoons, A. americanum, D. variabilis, and Ixodes scapularis Say from opossums, and A. americanum from cats. Few ticks were collected from urban animals, although species richness of ectoparasites was similar between urban and sylvatic habitats. Ctenocephalides felis (Bouch) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) was collected from all sampled host species, but was particularly abundant on opossums. Additionally, Orchopeas howardi (Baker) (Siphonaptera: Ceratophyllidae) was collected from raccoons, and O. howardi and Xenopsylla cheopis (Rothschild) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) from opossums. Only raccoons were infested with raccoon lice, and only cats were infested with cat lice. Primarily opossums were infested with mites. Ectoparasite community composition varied by habitat, host species, and season; seasonal variation in ectoparasite communities differed between the sylvatic and urban habitats. While urban mesomammals did not appear to play an important role in supporting tick populations in an urban habitat, urban opossums appear to serve as an alternate host for large numbers of cat fleas, which may be an important consideration for treatment and control efforts against ectoparasites of companion animals.

published proceedings

  • J Med Entomol

author list (cited authors)

  • Mays Maestas, S. E., Campbell, L. P., Wisely, S. M., Dingman, P. A., Reeves, L. E., & Kaufman, P. E.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Mays Maestas, SE||Campbell, LP||Wisely, SM||Dingman, PA||Reeves, LE||Kaufman, PE

editor list (cited editors)

  • Rust, M.

publication date

  • May 2023