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» Economics » Parasite » Topics begins with Z » Zecken

Page modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 15:18:07
: (Arthropoda)
: (Chelicerata)
:Arachnids (Arachnida)
:Mites (Acarii)
Scientific name
Leach 1815
or Metastigmata
Canestrini 1891
  • LED ore corners (Argasidae)
  • Schildzecken (Ixodidae)
  • Nuttalliellidae (Nuttalliella namaqua Bedford)

The Zecken (Ixodida) is a over family within the mites (Acarii) with leather-like flexible skin and belongs to the class of the Arachnids. They are assigned here to the parasitischen mites of the subordination Parasitiformes (Anactinotrichida). Under the Zecken are the largest kinds of mite. Most kinds are Ektoparasiten (they do not penetrate into the landlord inside in) at vertebrate animals. As landlords serve birds, reptiles and mammals (rodent, bats, Paarhufer). Many Zeckenarten belong thereby to important disease carriers.


LED ore corners are limited to the Tropics and Subtropen - with exception of the Taubenzecke Argas reflexus, which can find similarly warm living conditions also in Central Europe on attics and occasionally in stables. Schildzecken occur against it world-wide also in the moderate climate zones. By far the Zecke most frequent in Central Europe, Ixodes ricinus, belongs into this group. Schildzecken go through always three development stages after slipping: Larva, Nymphe (both sexless) and Adulte (the adults males and females). LED ore corners can go through in contrast to this several pupal stages, a landlord change can take place in each case.

It is assumed that by the climatic changes of the last years and an excessive stock remainder at game the Zeckenpopulation becomes larger and the propagation of the Zecken progresses into the northern ranges from Europe. Besides investigations point on the fact that the Durchseuchungsrate of the Zecken with bacteria, Protozoen and viruses increased. Pathogens, which were to be found so far only in the southern latitudes of Europe, are continued to prove today also in the north.

Places of residence

Schildzecken prefer high air humidity and relative warmth. Therefore they hold themselves primarily in the in high grasses and ferns or in the Unterholz (to approx. 1.5 m height). They are usually in a height, which corresponds to the size of the potential landlord. There they are stripped, if the potential landlord moves by the grass. The wide-spread opinion that Zecken of trees can be fallen down, does not apply against it usually. Besides Zecken select themselves naturally also the places of residence, at which their natural landlords occur particularly frequently.

LED ore corners however often live in the proximity of their landlords and prefer rather drier dark Unterschlupfe.Besonders ideal conditions offer under all these criteria of edges of forest and clearings also high-grown grasses, damp meadows and edges of brook with homogeneous vegetation and further leaves or mixed woodland with grasigen or krautigen Unterwuchs. However Zecken are to be found quite also in gardens and parks.

Their activities normally unfold it from March to Octobers, but can weather-dependently also deviations from it arise. In the winter Zecken are not active.


Since Zecken rank among the Arachnids, also they excluded 8 legs, the larvae with 6 legs. They are the largest representatives of the mites and can first as a adultes animal up to 4 mm become large. The Schildzecken has a hardened Chitinpanzer (Scutum) on the back part.

Mouth tools

The Zecke scratches the skin with its so-called Cheliceren in pairs put on and pushes the Hypostom (Stechapparat) into the wound. This is symmetrically occupied with Widerhaken. Thus they bore however only superficially into the skin in and "lick themselves" then the withdrawing blood and/or the Lymphe. Zecken do not penetrate thus usually up to the capillaries. This procedure is called colloquially "bite by ticks". Correct is however "Zeckenstich".

Suction process

Similarly as others blood-August-end insects deliver also Zecken with the Zeckenstich before beginning of food intake a secretion (saliva), which contains several important components with them however.

  1. A Gerinnungshemmer, which prevents a blockage of the Proboscis and which blood river increases to the parting place.
  2. A kind adhesive, which embodies the mouth tools (Proboscis) firmly in the skin.
  3. A , which makes the parting place insensitive. This component is very important, since Zecken possess a substantially larger and rougher compared with and in addition very much longer, sometimes several days suck, at its food victim blood, which is to notice of it naturally nothing.
  4. A active substance. This is to avoid a Stimulation of the body-own immune defense in the parting place.

After an expanded blood meal Zecken reach a size of up to 3 cm.


The male and female Zecken is blood Auger. For finding the food victim their Haller' organ is helpful to the Zecken. This chemoreceptor, which is equipped with sense bristles, is at the last leg element (Tarse number 23) of the first pair of legs and can recognize materials such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, lactic acid and above all butter acid, which are delivered by the respective landlord animals by breath and sweat. Into the Lauerstellung (the front pair of legs is stretched easily swivelling forward, with the rear three pairs of legs clasps it their Ansitz) this organ is put forward, so that the Zecken can receive the sensory stimuli better. The waiting Zecken changes immediately from the wait position (in-folded Vorderbeine are close because of the body) into the Lauerstellung, if they notice light change - particularly of brightly too darkly - by smell attractions, or by vibrations that possibly a landlord approaches. They hang themselves afterwards to everything that touches its respective place of residence and crawl then often with animal and humans up to several hours long at the body around, until they found a suitable parting place. Zecken are very discriminating thereby and prefer something damp, warm and well supplied with blood, thin skin. With humans are particularly the knee throats, the hair beginning, the Leistenbeuge and the fine skin behind the ears a popular goal.

Life cycle

The Argasidae (LED ore corners) has up to eight equal pupal stages. Each Nymphe is dependent on blood of a landlord, however they change frequently between differently large landlords (mouse, cat, humans). With the Ixodidae (Schildzecken) only one pupal stage occurs. After the eggs were e.g. put down into 2.000er-Paketen mostly in different protected places like the lower surfaces by blades of grass, the six-legged larva slips out of such an egg. This looks for itself already after few days a suitable intermediate landlord (rodent), sucks themselves there and takes up within two to three days blood. After sucking it lets drop and themselves after some months at the end of its development to the first achtbeinigen, approximately 1.5 to 2 millimeter-large Nymphe. This looks for itself now again a larger landlord (second intermediate landlord - cat) and sucks blood there likewise. The majority of the Nymphen, which have itself in the summer or autumn skinned, look for however not immediately a new landlord for a blood meal, but occur first up to the next spring a quiescent stage. Only after this break they look for a landlord for saturation and are a further following to the second Nymphe (LED ore corners) or to the adulten animal (Schildzecken). The attained full growth animal strikes thereafter the Endwirt (humans, cattle), lets themselves after this last blood meal be fallen and visits on it a female, around this to begatten. The female puts shortly thereafter up to 3.000 eggs down on blades of grass. The male Zecken dies after the Begattung, the females only after the oviposition.

Zecken as disease carriers

Zecken transferred due to its way of life frequently pathogens between the landlords, without however gets sick to be. It acts thereby around more kinds of pathogens than with each other parasitischen group of animals. There regularly also humans by serious illnesses such as Borreliose, early summer Meningoenzephalitis (FSME) or Rickettsiosenbetroffen are, are a bite by ticks an injury, with which by any means thoughtlessly cannot be gone around. Most important carriers in Central Europe are the kinds of the kind Ixodes with the most frequent native kind, the common wooden support (Ixodes ricinus), beside it also the kinds Rhipicephalus, Dermacentor, Haemaphysalis, Amblyomma and from the family of the LED ore corners the kinds Argas and Ornithodorus.

For further detailed information see relevant bite by ticks.

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