Dominance of Dermacentor reticulatus over Ixodes ricinus (Ixodidae) on livestock, companion animals and wild ruminants in eastern and central Poland

Ewa J Mierzejewska, Renata Welc-Faleciak, Grzegorz Karbowiak, Maciej Kowalec, Jerzy M Behnke, Anna Bajer
Experimental & Applied Acarology 2015, 66 (1): 83-101
The most common tick species parasitizing animals in Poland are Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus. These tick species differ in their distribution, habitats, seasonal activity and host specificity. Ixodes ricinus is the most prevalent and widely distributed, whereas the range of D. reticulatus is limited to eastern and central parts of the country with several new foci in the middle-west and the west. However, as in many central European countries, the range of D. reticulatus is expanding, and some authors have correlated this expansion with an increasing number of available hosts. The aim of the present study was to determine the tick fauna on domestic and livestock animals in two areas endemic for I. ricinus and D. reticulatus and to compare the risk of infestation with different tick species in open and forest areas. Over a 14 month period, 732 ticks were collected from five host species including domestic animals (dogs and cats), livestock (cows and horses) and wildlife (European bison) in two areas, central and NE Poland, endemic for D. reticulatus. Three tick species were recorded: D. reticulatus (623 individuals; 85.1% of all collected ticks), I. ricinus (106 individuals; 14.5%) and three females of Ixodes hexagonus (0.4%) from a dog. Dermacentor reticulatus was the dominant tick species found on four host species and constituted 86, 81, 97 and 100% of all ticks from dogs, horses, cows and bison, respectively, and was collected from animals throughout the year, including during the winter. The common tick, I. ricinus, was the dominant tick collected from cats (94%). Fully-engorged, ready-for-reproduction females of D. reticulatus were collected from all host species. In May 2012, questing ticks were collected by dragging in forest or open habitats. The density of adult marsh ticks in open areas was around 2 ticks/100 m(2) in the majority of locations, with a maximum of 9.5 ticks/100 m(2). The density of adult I. ricinus was much lower in its typical habitat (forests: range 0.8-2.2 ticks/100 m(2)) between three and seven times lower than the density of D. reticulatus in its typical habitat. In regions endemic for marsh ticks, this tick species constitutes the main risk of tick infestation for livestock and dogs throughout the year. Livestock and companion animals are competent hosts for D. reticulatus, enabling the completion of the tick's life cycle. Anti-tick treatment should be adjusted to marsh tick seasonal activity and drug sensitivity.

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