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Ixodes scapularis, the black-legged tick, is the most abundant vector of Lyme disease in North America and is spreading northward and westward rapidly. Little research has been devoted to studying possible predators of I. scapularis. Recent research has found that an abundant species of wolf spider Schizocosa ocreata, commonly known as the brush-legged wolf spider, readily ate nymph and engorged larvae I. scapularis in lab palatability trials and contributed to significantly reducing nymph survival in field microcosm experiments. I monitored the density of populations of S. ocreata in field and forest habitat types at four sites on the Bard College campus from the beginning of October to the end of November 2017 in order to determine whether S. ocreata is present during periods of peak adult I. scapularis abundance. While there were no significant differences in S. ocreata densities between field and forest plots, variation between my sites as well as time significantly influenced S. ocreata density. These findings suggest the added roles of several abiotic and biotic factors such as leaf litter depth, the presence of a micro-canopy and temperature in influencing spider community structure and abundance. My results confirm that S. ocreata is present during periods of peak I. scapularis abundance, opening the possibility of S. ocreata being a viable option for I. scapularis biocontrol.
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George, Nicholas A., "A Natural History of the Brush-Legged Wolf Spider (Schizocosa ocreata), a Known Predator of the Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis)" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 1.
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