Giant tick which “hunts” its prey likely spotted in the Netherlands
It’s very likely that the much larger and more horrifying cousin of the tick we all know, and do not love, has shown up in the Netherlands for the first time ever. This tick, the Hyalomma, actively hunts its prey and can chase you for 100 metres, even if you’re running.
Giant tick crosses border into the Netherlands
Worries had already arisen as to whether the gigantic tick, Hyalomma, would venture across the border from Germany. And it seems as though it has done so if what Caroline Clement from Borger, located in the province of Drenthe, saw is correct. Clement was removing ticks from her horses, something she does daily, when she saw one that was different, “It has very long legs and it was especially quick”.
The Hyalomma tick is widespread in North Africa and Asia, but can also be found in South and East Europe. What makes it different to the common ones found in the Netherlands (Ixodes ricinus) is its size and abilities. It is about three times bigger than the common “sheep ticks” found here, and actively searches for hosts, instead of passively waiting for prey.
The adult Hyalomma prefers larger animals and actively runs in pursuit of a host when it detects certain signals, such as vibrations, body temperature, ammonia, carbon dioxide and visual signals. It can also see its prey from nine metres away and run up to 100 metres.
Photos of the tick that Clement saw have been presented to Arnold van Vliet, a biologist at Wageningen University & Research. Van Vliet has been working on ticks for years, and according to him, the tick in the photos does seem to be the Hyalomma. In order to be 100 percent sure that the tick is indeed the Hyalomma species, employees at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) or the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) will launch an investigation.