Elevated Ambient Carbon Dioxide Levels Induce Attraction but Not Attachment of Adult Ixodes scapularis in Artificial Membrane Feeding
The painting on the cover, created using mixed media — oil and digital — depicts this journal’s home campus of McGill University at the foot of Montréal’s Mount Royal. The city-scape, illuminated by the blinding accretion disc of a black hole in the night sky, brings these elusive and distant bodies within reach of scientific and creative minds alike.


Ixodes scapularis
Artificial Membrane Feeding
Attachment Rate
Membrane Contact

How to Cite

Breitbach, E., & Lai, V. (2024). Elevated Ambient Carbon Dioxide Levels Induce Attraction but Not Attachment of Adult Ixodes scapularis in Artificial Membrane Feeding. McGill Science Undergraduate Research Journal, 19(1), 33–37. https://doi.org/10.26443/msurj.v19i1.219


Numerous feeding studies on tick species have explored disease transmission, vector interactions, and acaricide testing. Traditionally, these studies used animals for feeding. However, artificial membrane feeding offers several advantages including increased standardization of experiments, decreased costs, and improved animal welfare. In vitro conditions must closely mimic natural environments to promote successful feeding attachment. Kairomones produced by the host are strong stimulants that encourage attachment. An important kairomone detected by ticks is carbon dioxide (CO2). Previous studies have shown elevated CO2 levels stimulate host identification and attraction and potentially improve artificial feeding rates in some tick species. The objective of this study was to use an artificial membrane feeding chamber prototype to explore the effects of ambient CO2 in inducing Ixodes scapularis attachment. Differences in attachment rate were explored at an air-typical ambient CO2 level of 0.04% and an elevated CO2 level of 4.0%. Tick attachment was not detected in either ambient CO2 condition during the incubation period, indicating ambient CO2 does not impact the attachment rate under the presented condition. However, I. scapularis contact with the artificial membrane occurred at an increased rate of 0.014 female ticks in contact with the membrane per hour in the elevated CO2 condition (4%) compared with a rate of 0.01 ticks per hour in the air-typical CO2 condition (0.04%) (p = 0.048) suggesting that the ambient CO2 level affects attraction to the blood but does not directly stimulate attachment of I. scapularis.

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Copyright (c) 2024 Elizabeth Breitbach, Victor Lai


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