Climate and the seasonal abundance of the tick Dermacentor reticulatus

Bryony O Sands*, Katherine Bryer, Richard Wall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Dermacentor reticulatus (Ixodida: Ixodidae, Fabricius 1794) is one of the most widely distributed and abundant tick species in central Europe and is a vector for a range of pathogens. Nevertheless, many aspects of its ecology and distribution remain poorly understood. To quantify the seasonal abundance of this species in the UK and the environmental factors that determine this, weekly sampling at sites throughout Wales and southern England was undertaken for 12 months. This showed that the activity of adult D. reticulatus peaked February and March and that no individuals were collected between May and mid-October; no questing tick activity was observed when the 5-day average temperature was greater than 15 °C. A single nymph was collected by dragging, confirming speculation over the nidicolous status of larval and nymphal stadia. Laboratory analysis found that D. reticulatus were able survive cold shock and the lower lethal temperature was estimated to be between -18 and -20 °C. Habitat was significantly associated with tick activity, with higher numbers of ticks collected from low lying vegetation in marsh environments than from exposed grassland or woodland. A strong association was observed between activity and saturation deficit suggesting that the seasonal pattern of activity seen in the field, within the sites where it was abundant, is more strongly determined by temperature than humidity. Range expansion within the UK should be expected, bringing with it an elevated disease risk for animal and human hosts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Babesiosis
  • Phenology
  • Range expansion
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Saturation Deficit
  • Piroplasmosis

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