Ants can significantly reduce the occurrence of ticks
Health experts repeatedly point out how important it is to be to protect against ticks , After all, the little bloodsuckers can transmit dangerous diseases. Obviously you are less vulnerable if you are in an area where small red wood ants have their nests. Because there live fewer ticks, as researchers have now found out.
Carriers of dangerous diseases
Ticks are not active until summer, they are already lurking on grasses and bushes. According to experts, tick time is from April to September. The little bloodsuckers can be dangerous infectious diseases as Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis ( TBE ) transfer. Medical professionals therefore repeatedly point out the importance of protecting themselves from ticks. Researchers from Switzerland have now studied how the spread of ticks can be contained in a sustainable way. They found that ants could help with that.
Researchers have found that there are fewer ticks in areas where small red ants build their nests when looking for ways to reduce the spread of ticks. (Image: Ingo Sch./fotolia.com)
Slowly reduce the spread of ticks
In the search for solutions with which the spread of the ticks can be curbed, the effect of mold fungi and roundworms has been studied so far.
Researchers from the HAFL School of Agriculture and Forestry at the Bern University of Applied Sciences have chosen a different starting point and scrutinized the interactions between forest ants and ticks.
“With our study, we wanted to test whether the small red wood ant affects the occurrence of ticks in our forests,” explains study leader Silvia Zingg in one Message ,
The results of the study were published in the journal ” Parasites & Vectors ” released.
Forest ants were able to significantly reduce the occurrence of ticks
To reach their results, the scientists determined the tick and ant density on 130 sample areas in northwestern Switzerland – half of the sites with, the other without an ant nest in the vicinity.
To count the ticks, they have pulled a white cloth over soil and vegetation. In addition, they have measured other variables such as litter, vegetation and microclimate that affect the occurrence of ticks.
The results of the study show that dense vegetation with a negative and deep litter has a positive influence on the density of the ticks.
Above all, the researchers were able to prove that forest ants can significantly reduce the local presence of ticks.
Especially important for the effect is the size of the nests. For example, if the volume of an ant nest increases from 0.1 m3 to 0.5 m3, the number of ticks drops by about two-thirds.
Ecosystem service of small forest policemen
“More research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind this relationship,” Zingg said.
According to the scientists, it is possible that the formic acid around the nests or the predatory behavior of the wood ants have a repellent effect on the ticks.
In any case, the study documents another ecosystem service provided by the small forest police. (Ad)