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Dieren en planten

Mens en Milieu

  • Dut: Teek
  • Lat: Ixodidae (Argasidae, Haemaphysalidae) (Ixodes ricinus, Haemaphysalis punctata)
  • Eng: Tick
  • Ger: Zecke (Holzbock)
Tick, Foto Fitis, www.fotofitis.nl

Ticks

Ticks are gruesome parasites that suck blood. They don't distinguish much between hosts: dogs, cats, people and other mammals. Ticks carry the infamous Lyme disease. They can let themselves fall out of trees and bushes but the greatest chance of contact is walking through high grass and wild flowers. The most important months to watch out for ticks are from April through October. Strange enough, they seem to be less present in nature areas where cattle roam. A tick usually visits three different hosts during its lifetime. Between two meals, they can go for months without food. Ticks are not only found in woods, but also in the dunes.

  • Tick bites

    A tick bite can carry bacteria which causes the Lyme disease. A red ringed-shape skin irritation forms around the bite after a couple of days. The nervous system can be affected and signs of paralysis can result. That is why ticks must be removed as quickly as possible with special tick tweezers. It is very important to be alert for any ring formation around the bite up till a week after the tick has been removed. The disease can be counteracted in an early stage with antibiotics. In the Netherlands, a national study made in 2006 found that 30% of the ticks are infected with the Lyme bacteria.

  • Patient animals

    After the female adult has engorged itself, she lays 500 to 3000 eggs on the ground or under vegetation and then dies. The hatched larvae can remain inactive between ten days to two years, until a suitable host is found. After feeding upon a host, the larvae fall off and molt, transforming into nymphs. Once again, the nymph will wait ten days to two years for the next host, from which it will suck blood and molt into adulthood. The entire life cycle can vary between one and a half and seven years.
    During the nymph stage, a tick is only a few millimeters large, while a fully swelled adult tick can grow to more than a centimeter.