Ixodes ricinus

© Michiel Wijnveld

Ixodes ricinus, also known as castor bean ticks, is the tick that most frequently bites humans as well as pets in (central) Europe. This tick species is a three-host tick. During every active life stage (i.e., larvae, nymph and adult) the tick requires a host for as a source of a blood meal. After this tick has fed, they will drop off from the host and moult to the next active life stage and will search for the next host. Adult females, after feeding, will drop off from the host and lay eggs after which the tick will die. The eggs will hatch into larvae and the whole cycle starts again.

The complete life cycle can take two to three years in areas with cold winters. However, in milder climates, I. ricinus is active throughout the entire year and the complete life cycle can be finished within one year. All active life stages climb the vegetation to quest for potential hosts.

This tick species is associated with, or known to transmit, a large number of pathogens such as:

Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia divergens, Babesia venatorum, Bartonella henselae, Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Borrelia miyamotoi, Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis, Coxiella burnetii, Francisella tularensis, Rickettsia helvetica, Rickettsia monacensis, Rickettsia raoultii, Rickettsia slovaca, Candidatus Rickettsia thierseensis, Theileria (Babesia) microti and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) complex viruses.