Ticks not only live in the forest, but also feel good in gardens. The blood suckers are active even in the winter months, a study by the University of Hohenheim confirmed. Since 2014, the scientists have regularly checked around 100 home, orchards and allotments in the greater Stuttgart area for ticks. They recorded whether the gardens were natural or near the forest. The number of ticks was estimated using the "flag", in which white strips of fabric are drawn over lawns and bushes. The ticks change to the tick flags, are collected and counted. However, this method can only be used to detect animals that are actively looking for a host.
The arachnids were found in 60 percent of the gardens. The bloodsuckers were found in different environments. Factors such as nearby forest, undergrowth, and tall grass favored large tick populations. But ticks were also found in small, well-kept gardens in the outskirts of the city. Mostly the distribution was not uniform, but limited to a few places in the garden.
Three different types of ticks have been found, one of which is introduced into the garden mainly by birds. Other host animals are mice, hedgehogs and pets. As a result of climate change, the pests are active from February until December.
The common woodbuck (Ixodes ricinus) is the most common tick species and is widespread nationwide. It can transmit various diseases such as Lyme disease and early summer meningitis (TBE). The areas with TBE occurrence are mainly in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and in small parts of Thuringia, Hesse, Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate. Cases have also been reported in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt.
The study results confirmed that ticks cannot be avoided completely. "But correct behavior can significantly reduce health risks," explains Rainer Schretzmann from aid infodienst. »Wear sturdy shoes and long trousers, which are put in the socks«. This makes skin contact more difficult. After an excursion in the forest, meadow or along heavily overgrown streams, one should search for clothing and the whole body for ticks. "Especially in the crotch, in the armpits, elbow bends and the back of the knees, the bloodsuckers like to stay," says Schretzmann. If the tick has already established itself, it must be removed quickly using special tweezers. (Heike Kreutz, aid)