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Ability of Adult Dermacentor reticulatus Ticks to Overwinter in the Temperate Climate Zone

Chair and Department of Biology and Parasitology, Medical University of Lublin, Radziwiłłowska 11 St., 20-080 Lublin, Poland
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Biology 2020, 9(7), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070145
Received: 28 May 2020 / Revised: 25 June 2020 / Accepted: 27 June 2020 / Published: 29 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Ecology)
Dermacentor reticulatus ticks, one of the most important vectors and reservoirs of tick-borne diseases in Europe, are widespread in the temperate climate zone and in some localities in the subtropical climate zone of the western Palaearctic region. These ticks occur in a large area characterised by a varied climate type, vegetation, and availability of potential hosts. Hence, they exhibit high ecological plasticity and adaptability to periodically adverse conditions. The aim of the present study was to investigate the ability of D. reticulatus adults to overwinter in the natural habitat. Specimens marked with a permanent oil marker on the festoons were placed in their natural habitats for the winter. Concurrently, tick survival in laboratory conditions at a temperature of 5 °C and 18 °C was assessed as a control. The groups were compared with each other by determination of the weight of fat bodies. In the field conditions, 67.9% females and 60.0% males survived the winter. There was no significant difference in the survival of ticks in the laboratory. A significantly lower fat body weight was found in the group of ticks overwintering in the field conditions and exhibiting questing activity between spring and late autumn during the following year. On the population scale, adult D. reticulatus ticks are able to survive the winter in temperate climate conditions at a level ensuring a further increase in their population size. In adverse weather conditions, ticks enter diapause, thus maximally reducing the utilisation of the content of their fat bodies. This facilitates long-term survival in the environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: Dermacentor reticulatus; ticks; tick overwinter; tick activity; ticks and winter Dermacentor reticulatus; ticks; tick overwinter; tick activity; ticks and winter
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Zając, Z.; Bartosik, K.; Kulisz, J.; Woźniak, A. Ability of Adult Dermacentor reticulatus Ticks to Overwinter in the Temperate Climate Zone. Biology 2020, 9, 145.

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