New tropical teal winters for the first time with us

Potentially dangerous hyalomma tick seems to be increasingly established in Germany

The tropical tick Hyalomma marginatum apparently wintered in Germany for the first time. © University of Hohenheim / Marco Drehmann
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Disquieting discovery: The newly introduced tropical hawks Hyalomma has apparently wintered successfully in Germany. This is what the first tick finds of this year indicate. Accordingly, the potential disease carriers turned up so early that they could not have been introduced by migratory birds, unlike in the previous year. Although the bloodsuckers are not necessarily native to us yet - but the probability that they establish themselves, increases.

The rising temperatures caused by climate change are increasingly attracting exotic people to our latitudes: Species that are native to tropical regions are now finding suitable living conditions in Europe and Germany. This also applies to bloodsuckers such as ticks, which can be introduced, for example, by returning migratory birds - and then possibly remain permanent.

Last year, researchers found for the first time a representative of these arachnids unknown to us: the tropical tick Hyalomma. The two species Hyalomma marginatum and Hyalomma rufipes are originally from Africa, Asia and southern Europe, but now appear to be increasingly spreading in Germany. This invasion carries a potential health risk, as the ticks can transmit dangerous infectious diseases such as typhus.

Six new finds

Now, Ute Mackenstedt from the University of Hohenheim and her colleagues have made a disturbing discovery: The newly immigrated ticks have obviously overwintered for the first time here. To this conclusion, the scientists led the first Hyalomma records of this year - five found on a horse farm in North Rhine-Westphalia ticks and one discovered on a horse in Lower Saxony animal. All six specimens probably belong to the species Hyalomma marginatum.

While the last representatives of this species were probably brought to Germany by migratory birds, this may not have been the case in the opinion of the research team. "The juvenile stages of the ticks, the larvae and nymphs, are often found on migratory birds, " explains Mackenstedt. But the animals found now appeared relatively early in the year. "If you counted back the development cycle, they would have had to be introduced at a time when the migratory birds were not even there, " said the parasitologist. display

Already at home?

What does this observation mean now? Have the tropical ticks already settled in our home? Not necessarily, says Mackenstedt: "In order for a population to develop, males and females should find each other. This is difficult with small population size. In addition, larvae and nymphs would have to develop, which birds or hare need as a host. Whether and how this works, we do not know yet. "

However, the finding of five hyalomma ticks on a single horse farm, according to the scientists, at least suggests that there were several individuals present at the same time - and thus the possibility of mating and the emergence of a stand-alone population, To what extent the exotic arachnids actually succeed in establishing themselves in the Federal Republic, Mackenstedt and their colleagues will continue to observe in the future.

Source: University of Hohenheim

- Daniel Albat