The castor bean tick

Castor bean tick attacks with its front pair of legs

Fig. 65. The castor bean tick – ready to climb onto a host with the front pair of legs. (Gjelstrup)

The castor bean tick

The castor bean tick

The castor bean tick, Ixodes ricinus, is just one of about thirty kinds of ticks that are found in Denmark. However, it is almost exclusively this species of ticks that is found on humans. An adult male tick is approx. 2 mm long. The female is twice as long. Ticks engorge when they suck blood. The abdomen’s reddish-brown, leathery skin can expand quite a lot.

A blood filled female castor bean tick can be almost 1.5 cm long and looks like a pea, ranging in color from a grayish yellow to blue-gray. In some places in Denmark, the castor bean ticks are very common. In other parts, they are hardly seen. The reason is that they have rather strict requirements to the environment. They do not tolerate dehydration and are therefore mostly found in underwoods and other densely-vegetation locations. The castor bean tick can be seen on reptiles, but it is much more frequently found on mammals and birds. In Denmark, roe deer serve as the primary hosts. In areas with cattle or sheep, these often serve as hosts.