Risk of ticks in South London park, researchers say

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found more than 1000 ticks in samples taken at Richmond Park

Richmond Park in summer. Copyright: Giles Barnard / The Royal Parks
Richmond Park in summer. Copyright: Giles Barnard / The Royal Parks

Ticks, particularly Ixodes ricinus, can carry Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, which causes Lyme disease.

Over June and July 2013 researchers used a variety of testing methods including dragging blankets across the ground and using flags attached to trousers to sample 360 areas, testing whether ticks would attach to the materials. They found no ticks in Wimbledon Common or Hampton Court but found 1109 ticks in the samples from Richmond Park and nine ticks at Bushy Park.

At Richmond Park, ticks were present in samples taken from areas with increased soil moisture and mat depth and lower canopy humidity. The insects were more abundant on cooler ground with longer grass. At Bushy Park, thicker mat depth predicted tick presence and warmer ground correlated with tick absence.

A total of 279 ticks were screened for the presence of B. burgdorferi. Despite the high numbers of ticks at Richmond Park, just 2.14 per cent of nymphs were found to be carrying the bacteria.

But the researchers said their findings, particularly at Richmond Park, "highlight the need for appropriate communication of the associated risk to the general public frequenting these recreational areas".

"Given its high footfall and proximity to Richmond Park, tick presence should be routinely monitored at Wimbledon Common. Despite suitable hosts for I. ricinus, the abiotic conditions appear to be unfavourable at Hampton Court and the consequent risk to the general public is low. At Richmond and Bushy Parks, I. ricinus is irrefutably present and preventative measures should be taken to avoid tick bites."

The Royal Parks should be encouraged to provide leaflets on the risk of Lyme borreliosis and further activities to increase public awareness, the researchers said.

An advice sheet on ticks published by The Royal Parks (PDF) suggests sticking to paths, avoiding dense vegetation and tucking trousers into socks to avoid being bitten by ticks. 

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

From The Editor - Urgent need to pool park ideas

One of the toughest jobs professionals working in the parks sector have faced over the years has been getting across to politicians just how critical green spaces are to the health and wellbeing of local communities.

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

It's now around one year since work started on Sheffield's groundbreaking "Grey to Green" scheme, one of the largest urban green infrastructure projects in the UK.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Contracts & Tenders

Sally Drury on professional gardening

Sally Drury

A monthly checklist of things to do and watch out for to keep your garden looking its best.