The hot and dry summer weather favors a species of tick that has so far mainly been native to Africa.

According to the Stuttgart tick researcher Ute Mackenstedt, according to current information from the Vorderpfalz, the tick, which is called Hyalomma according to its genus name, is observed more frequently this year than in the previous, rather wet year.

"We have never come across this animal before," reports the rider Susanne Mengelberg in Bobenheim-Roxheim (Rhine-Palatinate district).

The special size and the striped legs are striking.

Within a few days, the tick species appeared five times, leaving bite wounds and sucking points on particularly sensitive areas of the horse's skin.

"She runs, she's fast."

Came with migratory birds

Unlike the common woodbuck (Ixodes ricinus), which senses its victims via chemical signals such as temperature and smell and then attaches itself to them in the grass or undergrowth, Hyalomma ticks are active hunters that can pursue their victims over long distances.

The Greek name refers to the ability to see: Hyalomma means something like glass eye.

So far, two different species have appeared in Germany, Hyalomma rufipes, which is native to Africa, and Hyalomma marginatum, which is widespread in south-eastern Europe and Turkey.

In addition to horses and other large mammals, the ticks also go to humans.

In the vicinity of the riding meadows near Bobenheim-Roxheim there are several ponds with many Canada geese and greylag geese.

"We assume that Hyalomma come to our latitudes with migratory birds," says the expert Mackenstedt, who researches in the parasitology department at the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim.

In the developmental stage of the nymph, the ticks attach themselves to the birds, then fall off and, in favorable weather conditions, develop into adults.

Viral infection with high mortality

"The occurrence of hyalomma correlates very well with the routes of bird flight," says Mackenstedt.

This includes the Rhine Valley.

There is also evidence for Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.

"In the coming decades, climate change could result in a Hyalomma species being able to establish itself here and become at home," says the scientist.

Depending on the amount of blood sucked, Hyalomma rufipes lays nearly 2000 eggs with each oviposition.

"The high number of offspring is a factor that can make it easier for the tick to conquer a new habitat," explains the Robert Koch Institute.

Hyalomma ticks can transmit Crimean-Congo fever (CCHF), a viral infection with a high mortality rate.

Thousands of people have contracted it in Turkey since 2002;

According to the RKI, the disease had a fatal course in almost five percent of the cases.

The state investigation office of Rhineland-Palatinate warned of the Hyalomma ticks in 2018 - even then the summer was particularly dry and hot.

However, the occurrence of hyalomma does not have to be reported or reported.

The authorities therefore have no information about the current distribution.

Rider Susanne Mengelberg is concerned: "I very much hope to never encounter a Hyalomma again."