Questing behaviour of Ixodes ricinus ticks (Acari: Ixodidae)
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The vertical distribution in the vegetation of questing Ixodes ricinus ticks was investigated in two different vegetation types (‘high’ and ‘low’ vegetation) at two localities in south-central Sweden during 1992-1993 (Toro) and 1995 (Bogesund). Significant correlations were found between the vertical distribution of immature ticks and the height of the vegetation. The greatest mean availabilities of the larvae and nymphs in low vegetation were in the intervals 0-9 and 30-39 cm, respectively. The larval numbers were greatest close to the ground (0-29 cm) in both high and low vegetation. The larval : nymphal ratio, at ground level at localities free of ground vegetation, varied between 8 : 1 and 32 : 1. In high vegetation, the greatest mean numbers of nymphal and adult ticks were at height intervals of 50-59 and 60-79 cm, respectively. These ranges are within the estimated height interval (40-100 cm) of the main part of the body surface of their ‘preferred’ host, the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). The presence of most questing I. ricinus larvae at ground level would favour the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., since this is where the highly reservoir-competent rodents and shrews usually occur.
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