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Ornate cow tick

Key features

The male tick is 4.2 – 4.8 mm long, an unfed female is 3.8 – 4.2 mm long and an engorged female can measure up to 10 mm.

This tick has distinctive white patterning on the anterior end of the body.

The posterior end is uniformly brown in colour with characteristic festoons, crimped regions of the exoskeleton, on the posterior margin.

The four pairs of legs are adapted for gripping on to the host, with well-developed tarsal claws.

The unfed nymph stage is 1.4 – 1.8 mm long.


The marsh tick is typical of a three-host tick-that is to say that each stage of its life cycle ( the larva, the nymph and the adult) feed on a separate host.

In between feeding, the tick stages live within the ground vegetation and prior to feeding adopt the questing phase in which the tick aligns itself at the top of vegetation with the fore-limbs extended “questing” for its new host.

Eggs, many hundreds, are deposited by the females in vegetation and the six-legged larvae feed and then moult to a eight-legged nymph which in turn feeds and moults to the adult, each of these feeding stages taking place in successive years.

The main activity period for adults is in the spring with a secondary peak in autumn.


Ornate cow tick is widely distributed throughout Europe.

The distribution in Britain is patchy, occurring around the coast of South West England and Wales, where it is found on cattle.


Adult ornate cow ticks feed on domestic and wild animals, i.e. dog, horse, sheep, deer, fox, hare and hedgehog. Since they feed exclusively on vertebrate blood, ticks have the ability to spread blood- borne disease and many viruses; rickettsial and protozoan infections are spread by them. In general they are still relatively rare in causing infections.

The nymphs and larvae feed on small mammals: rodents, insectivores and mustelids. Occasionally they are found on birds.

Human beings are also liable to be bitten.


Please call East Lancashire Pest Control on 0800 023 6116