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Ixodes frontalis: a neglected but ubiquitous tick species in Germany


The ornithophilic tick species Ixodes frontalis (Panzer) is spatially distributed in Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It can serve as a carrier of different bacteria and viruses, but little is known of its actual vector competence. In addition, adult females of this species are associated with the avian “tick-related syndrome” (TRS). Like most ornithophilic tick species, I. frontalis is usually collected from bird nests or directly from their hosts. Reports of I. frontalis being collected with the flagging method are scarce. In Germany, the species is considered as very rare. In the few reports that are available, the majority of ticks has been discovered on migrating birds. Therefore, knowledge of the actual distribution of this species in Germany was strictly limited. In this study, we report the finding of 1084 individuals of I. frontalis collected with the flagging method in urban areas and gardens in several regions of Germany. Furthermore, the species was discovered on 35 dead Eurasian blackbirds (Turdus merula) from all over Germany. Finally, we report of five new possible cases of TRS, three in free-ranging birds and two in captive birds, including a Harris’s hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) kept for falconry.

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This study was partially supported financially by Pfizer Pharma GmbH, Baxter Deutschland GmbH and Ixoguard B.V. The authors thank the volunteers of the Society to Support Avian Medicine in Giessen (Verein zur Förderung der Vogelmedizin in Giessen e.V.) and Sylvia Urbaniack from Birds of Prey Rehab Center Rhineland (Greifvogelhilfe Rheinland, Brueggen, Germany) for taking care of the free-ranging birds after medical treatment until release back into the wild. Additional thank goes to Almuth Eberius for informing us about an infested bird. We also thank all garden owners who collected ticks with the flagging method and those citizens helping with the collection of birds.

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Correspondence to Marco Drehmann.

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Parts of this study (the collection of ticks on vegetation in Baden-Wuerttemberg) were supported financially by Pfizer Pharma GmbH, Baxter Deutschland GmbH and Ixoguard B.V.

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Drehmann, M., Chitimia-Dobler, L., Lindau, A. et al. Ixodes frontalis: a neglected but ubiquitous tick species in Germany. Exp Appl Acarol 78, 79–91 (2019).

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  • Ixodes frontalis
  • Species distribution
  • Avian tick-related syndrome
  • Turdus merula
  • Germany