A Portuguese Two Host Tick
Hyalomma m. marginatum

Dartmoor Tick Watch
Please join in!

Millipore (UK) Ltd, Agar Scientific Ltd
 Whatman plc, Plymstock Computers
 Compassworks, Dartmoor News

Brian Reece Scientific Ltd

Ornate Cow Tick
Dermacentor reticulatus


  Home Collecting kit Record sheet Results Disease statistics Photos
Tick ID Safety News  Thanks Cont@ct
Updates: 10 Apr 10 31 Jul 08 12 Sep 08 1 Feb 10 10 Oct 09 27 Dec 11 21 Aug 08 13 Dec  09 9 Mar 16 10 Aug 09  

Tip - press the browser Reload/Refresh icon when viewing the pages because some pages change frequently and you may be viewing an older version cached in your computer.

>>>        Final Report 2009 added to the web site.        <<<

The Notice of the  talk at The Wharf, Tavistock, has been moved to the News page.

On a light note, I found this tick-related / public health video on YouTube recently: The Wood Tick Song
............. and "No" it is not me!

An interesting article about ticks from Knock News, "Just a Tick ..." was added 10 Apr 2011.

Electron microscope images

 >>>       Tick Awareness Factsheet - Dartmoor National Park Authority       <<<

Dartmoor CAM - Ticks page
More information about ticks
- the forerunner of this web site

Diagram of tick life cycle stages on a human finger nail to show scale
Diagram showing the relative size of tick stages
on the human finger nail.
Image reproduced with permission
from Lyme Disease Action

Click here to see a photograph of real-life life-cycle stages - at bottom of this page


Dartmoor Tick Watch

Mission Statement - what it's about

"To increase knowledge and understanding of ticks on Dartmoor and its margins, bearing in mind that they carry diseases that affect health and that various factors - e.g. milder winters, changing hill farming practice, fewer animals, less grazing, less trampling, less swaling, spreading bracken, greater leisure use etc. - may cause ticks to have a greater impact on human and animal health in the future."

Aims - aspirations

  1. To run the project to the end of 2009.

  2. To involve as many people as possible who encounter ticks.

  3. To collect as many ticks as possible.

Objectives - deliverables

  1. To identify the species of ticks that occur on and around Dartmoor.

  2. To record geographical locations where ticks are found.

  3. To record and measure life cycle stages through the year - larvae, nymphs and adults.

  4. To investigate if larvae and nymphs occur late in the year.

  5. To investigate if ticks are active in winter.

  6. To photograph ticks, their life cycle stages and identifying features.

  7. To put photographs on the project's web site.

  8. To update the web site with results as they accrue.

  9. To share the findings with interested individuals or bodies.

  10. To thank the sponsors and collectors who have made the project possible.

Additional objective:

  1. To ascertain the number of Dartmoor ticks carrying Lyme disease
    Preliminary results: 1 tick in 20 found to carry spirochaete bacteria


The following have moved to the Photos pages:

The IDSA Washington Lyme disease hearings and webcast links have moved to the Disease statistics page.



Dartmoor tick indices 1, 2, 3

Using worst case scenario figures where there were two samplings in a given month

The highest risk of encountering ticks is where the lower index numbers
indicate the closer distance between ticks on the ground. The worst times were:

High Moor: May/Jun & Oct
Bracken: Apr/May & Sep
Sheltered valley: May to Oct inclusive


  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Open grassland
(High moor)
n/s* None None 7.3 4.2 3.9 10.5 15.8 15.8 9.5 None None
(Edge of high moor)
n/s* 13.1 4.6 4.8 3.9 7.9 6.2 10 6.2 9.1 None None
(Sheltered valley)
7.5 4.5 6.7 3.4 1.0 1.2 2.1 1.3 1.3 2.8 6.7 6.4

   * n/s - not sampled

1 Index = shortest distance between ticks assuming equal distribution on a square grid.
2 Tick numbers are reduced by low temperature, very wet or very dry conditions
  - under these conditions, they seek shelter in the ground cover micro-climate to conserve moisture.    

3 There are reasons to believe that these numbers are under-estimates of tick numbers, see here.




Talks about Ticks & Lyme disease
- an increasing threat to health?

Talks for groups such as Women's Institutes, Scouts, Guides, Schools etc. 
are available in the Devon and Cornwall area. The titles at present are:

  • "Ticks & Lyme disease"

  • "The Dartmoor Tick Watch Project"

  • "A tick can make you sick"
    - two levels, aimed primarily at school children and young persons.

Sample slides .....

Looking at the recent increase in Lyme disease

Animals and places associated with ticks

This slide is a short movie

Not using a burning cigarette, surgical spirit etc.

If you are interested, please see contact details below


This project is a private undertaking by a retired scientist to investigate the number, distribution and variety of ticks occurring on and around Dartmoor. If you see ticks in the area in your work or leisure activities, please join in!

Ticks occur across the United Kingdom, from the highlands of Scotland to the centre of London. To see where they have been officially recorded, click on the interactive distribution maps for sheep tick (here) and hedgehog tick (here).

Some ticks harbour disease organisms that can seriously affect human and animal health. The incidence of e.g. Lyme disease, the commonest UK tick-borne disease, appears to be increasing (see here).

The trigger for the project was finding six ticks on a dog after a day on Shaugh Moor, an area not then indicated for the tick on the interactive tick maps that are linked below.

The links below go to the relevant page for each tick on the National Biodiversity Network website  
Argas vespertilionis Short-legged bat tick,  Blyborough tick, a soft tick
Dermacentor reticulatus Ornate cow tick (meadow tick)
Hyalomma aegyptium Tortoise tick  
Ixodes frontalis includes
Ixodes pari & Ixodes turdi
Passerine tick  
Ixodes hexagonus   Hedgehog tick
Ixodes lividus Sand martin tick  
Ixodes ricinus Sheep tick, castor bean tick, pasture tick, wood tick
Ixodes trianguliceps Vole tick, shrew tick
Ixodes uriae Seabird tick
Ixodes ventalloi * Rabbit tick, Isles of Scilly, Lundy & Dartmoor margins
Ixodes vespertilionis Long-legged bat tick  

British ticks recorded in the South Devon area (includes Dartmoor)

* Ixodes ventalloi moved to this table following the identification of one tick
from the Ivybridge area by the Health Protection Agency's Tick Recording Scheme,
pending second official identification.
  Bites people

Argas reflexus Pigeon tick, Canterbury tick, a soft tick
Hyalomma marginatum Two-host tick
Haemaphysalis punctata Red sheep tick, coastal red tick,
Ixodes acuminatus
includes Ixodes dorriensmithi
& Ixodes guernseyensis
Southern rodent tick, in SW
Ixodes apronophorus
includes Ixodes arvicolae
Marsh tick, East Anglia
Ixodes arboricola
includes Ixodes passericola
Tree-hole tick, in SW
Ixodes caledonicus Northern bird tick
Ixodes canisuga Fox tick, Dog tick in SW
Ixodes rothschildi Puffin tick, in SW
Ixodes unicavatus Cormorant tick - coastal, maybe SW
Ornithodorus maritimus Marine argasid, a soft tick, coasts - Irish
Rhipicephalus sanguineus Kennel tick, brown dog tick

Other British ticks
Total of twenty-eight species names, some are aggregated together.

  Bites people - Information from Ticks - A lay guide to a human hazard by George Hendry & Darrel Ho-Yen,
Mercat Press, Edinburgh, 1998, ISBN 1873644 809.

The hyperlinked species names in the tables above link to interactive distribution maps
at the NBN - National Biodiversity Network via the NBN Gateway

The gaps in the maps may reflect the lack of recorders in those areas.


When I started this project, I knew of six cases of Lyme disease among friends or friends of friends. I have recently heard of a dog that died from Lyme disease. I have currently heard of 49 cases among mostly local people.

Tick numbers on Dartmoor may be increasing. This could be due to an interplay of several factors:

It is said that ticks are increasing everywhere, if this is true then Dartmoor users are perhaps suffering a "multiple whammy" because of the factors above. The risk of tick-borne disease is foreseen as increasing (here).

Further, there are more people using Dartmoor, so the risk of tick infections increases overall. It is reported that perhaps 5% to 30% of ticks are infected and that a tick needs to be attached for 24 hours to pass on any infection.

One problem is that some life cycle stages are small and can be easily overlooked. Also, removing a tick incorrectly, in a manner that stresses it, can induce regurgitation of pathogens into the victim's body thereby causing infection.

The project provides containers to keep ticks in for examination and measurement by microscopy and photography so as to identify types and life cycle stages. 

A short data sheet is included, asking date and where and what the tick was found on: this entails 'ticking' tick-boxes!

The results will be freely available via this web site and should be of general interest to any person or body with an interest in Dartmoor. They will also be forwarded to the national Tick Recording Scheme (see more details here).

If you are interested or can help by carrying a small plastic container that weighs nothing and takes up little room, please contact:

Dr Keith Ryan BSc, PhD, CBIOL, FRSB, FRMS
11a Gower Ridge Road

Tel. 01752 405245

email: (clickable image, anti-spam) 

My qualifications
Thirty-five years running light and electron microscopes in biological research, 1969-2004. Elected to Membership of the Institute of Biology, 1971, and Fellowship of the Royal Microscopical Society, 1972. Award: Geoffrey Meek Memorial Prize (Roy. Microsc. Soc.) for technical advances in microscopy, 1988. Presentations: 72, Publications: 57. 

Live adult female Sheep Tick (Ixodes ricinus)
Adult female common sheep tick, Ixodes ricinus
also called Castor Bean Tick, Pasture Tick & Wood Tick
Total body length - capitulum ("head") plus idiosoma ("body") is 3.5 mm.
The hard scutum (dorsal shield) does not cover the whole body as it does in the male tick,
this allows for body swelling during feeding prior to egg-laying.

"Deer Tick" is reserved for the American Ixodes scapularis
where it is also called the Black-legged Tick

See also: Ticks page on Dartmoor CAM for more information about ticks and tick-borne diseases.

Adult Ixodes ricinus, showing the mouthparts - dorsal view
0 to 10 = 1.0 mm. Each small division = 0.1 mm.

Ixodes ricinus mouthparts.
Note the backward-pointing barbs on the central component (the 'hypostome')
between the two lateral palps, this anchors the tick during feeding.
This view is from the dorsal surface.


The relative sizes of stages in the Sheep Tick (Ixodes ricinus) life cycle

Key to the images
larva (unfed, 0.75 mm) male (unfed, 2.1 mm) female (engorged, 8.72 mm)
nymph (unfed, 1.34 mm)
female (unfed, 3.2 mm)
nymph (engorged, 3.6 mm)

Composite of photographs taken at the same magnification (x6)
The scale marks on the left and bottom edges are 1 mm divisions on a steel ruler photographed at the same magnification (x6). The on-screen magnification is x17 on an 800x600 pixel screen display.

(Engorged larvae, with 6 legs, can be seen on the Photos page, Ticks 59-64, or click HERE)



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Web site created 26 June 2008
2008-2014 Keith Ryan - All rights reserved except for "Results" data
Please email for permissions incl. data spreadsheet (Excel).