Ongoing work in oak woods in Killarney National Park in southwestern Ireland is focusing on the factors influencing the fine-scale aggregated distribution of Ixodes ricinus L. (Acari: Ixodidae) on the ground. The extent of reuse of stems of vegetation as questing points by adult ticks was determined by paint-marking stems on which ticks were found, counting and removing these ticks, and subsequently reexamining the same stems for ticks on two further occasions. Overall, an estimated 2,967 stems in 123 separate rush plants (Juncus effusus L.) were examined. Statistical analysis of the data demonstrated a highly significant reoccupancy by ticks of stems previously and recently used. Furthermore, it is shown that the extent of stem reuse by ticks is significantly and positively correlated with the numbers of ticks originally observed on those stems. Although other factors may be involved in generating clumping of ticks, the results are compatible with the proposition that aggregation of I. ricinus on the ground is pheromone-mediated. The findings are discussed in relation to what is known about the powers of lateral movement of I. ricinus on the ground and the possible implications for the performance of tick traps.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2