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About Ticks

Ticks are arachnids, and related to spiders, mites and scorpions. There are over 800 species of ticks throughout the world, but only two families of ticks, Ixodidae (hard ticks) and Argasidae (soft ticks), are known to transmit diseases or illness to humans. Hard ticks have a scutum, or hard plate, on their back while soft ticks do not.

There are many different species of tick in Europe. The most common tick in Western Europe is the hard tick Ixodes ricinus, known by various names including the Castor Bean Tick, Deer Tick, Sheep Tick, or "Sciortan" in Irish.

Despite its name, it will feed from a wide variety of mammals and birds. There is a useful guide to identify hard ticks.

There is more useful information online about ticks. (archived version only available)

Why Are There More Ticks?

  1. Afforestation (planting trees)

    1. Afforestation increases tick habitat area

    2. Afforestation drives up deer numbers

    3. Increasing deer population drives up tick numbers

  2. Climate

    1. Rainfall improved tick habitats

    2. Higher temperatures increases tick activity and reproductive period

  3. Land Disuse (set aside, etc.)

    1. Land disuse increases tick habitat area

    2. Land disuse creates more habitat for small mammal and avian hosts

    3. Increasing numbers of mammal and avian hosts drives up tick numbers



Graphic and explanatory notes courtesy of Dr Eoin Healy, University College Cork.
Copyrighted and not to be reproduced without permission from Eoin Healy (

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