Questing ticks were sampled monthly over a period of 11 months from February, 2011 to December, 2011 at 13 sites in southern Germany using the flagging method. The ticks were identified to species, gender, and stadium. Although both I. ricinus and D. reticulatus were sampled, this study concentrated on I. ricinus, since it was the most abundant tick to be found. Additional weather data (air and soil temperature, relative air humidity, precipitation, sunshine duration) were recorded on each sampling site and the local vegetation described. A total of 14, 394 ticks was collected (7,862 larvae, 5,568 nymphs, 964 adults) and their activity was recorded in order to determine the seasonal activity pattern over different periods of the year. In contrast to the widely accepted pattern of a bimodal seasonal activity in moderate areas with a dominant peak in spring and a minor peak in autumn, a unimodal activity pattern was found for all development stages on six of the 12 sampling sites. Tick abundance was compared to weather variables. Tick host-seeking activity was found to be significantly dependent on the temperature at ground level, precipitation, and sunshine duration as well as relative air humidity. Adult ticks showed a positive correlation with the duration of sunshine, whereas nymphs were mostly unaffected by this phenomenon.
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Vol. 39 • No. 1