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Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z Ticks Tick Recording Scheme

Tick Recording Scheme

Catching samples of ticks

In 2005, in collaboration with the Biological Records Centre (BRC), we electronically digitised previously published tick records and established the Tick Recording Scheme (TRS) to update and continue this data resource.

All the records are freely available via the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) gateway for research and public use.

The primary aims of the recording scheme are to:

  • promote the surveillance of ticks in GB
  • monitor tick distribution on a nationwide scale
  • determine the diversity of ticks commonly infesting humans and animals
  • detect exotic/unusual tick species.

Taking part

Individuals and groups are invited to assist in the development of tick distributions by sending in any ticks collected, along with details of:

  • date of collection
  • specific location (grid reference)
  • general location (nearest town/village)
  • host from which tick was collected (e.g. human, dog)
  • contact details of the individual sending in the sample.   

If more than one tick is collected from different hosts or locations, please place these in separate containers. If more than one tick is collected from the same host or habitat on the same day, they may be sent in one container. If you are not able to post the ticks immediately or soon after collection, please place them in a fridge or cool, dark place and post as soon as possible. This will prevent any deterioration of the specimens.

All specimens sent in will be identified to enhance our knowledge of tick distributions in the British Isles and facilitate a better understanding of the public health risk posed by ticks and tick-borne infections.

Instructions on how to safely remove ticks

  • Using a pair of forceps or tweezers, or tick removal hooks (do not use fingers), grip the head of the attached tick, as close to the point of attachment on the skin as possible.
  • Gently apply pressure and pull steadily upwards, without twisting and taking care not to crush the tick.
  • Place the tick/s in a plastic container and ensure the lid is securely fastened.
  • Wash hands after tick removal.
  • Label the container so that the accompanying details recorded can be identified.
  • Place sealed container in an envelope and post to the address below
  • Should you develop any symptoms of illness (rash, fever, flu-like symptoms) following tick removal, please seek advice from your GP

More instructions on how to safely remove ticks

Recording your data

The TRS relies upon members of the public, health practitioners, veterinary practitioners, wildlife groups and others to submit ticks to the scheme. Since the TRS began in 2005, we have been able to update our knowledge of British tick species, monitor the importation of exotic ticks into the country on humans and animals and learn more about tick species infesting wildlife and the role they may play in disease transmission cycles.

Please select from the following options to ensure you use the most appropriate recording form to record your data.

General public

If you are sending in ticks collected from humans, pets, or other hosts please select this form to record details of ticks collected:

Tick recording form (Word Document, 48 KB)

Wildlife ticks

Ticks and wildlife hosts can play important roles in disease transmission cycles so it is important for us to understand the relationships between ticks and their hosts. We are therefore encouraging submissions of ticks from wildlife charities, rescue centres and any other groups working with wildlife and who routinely remove ticks as part of their work.

If you are sending in ticks collected from wild animals, please use the following form:

Wildlife recording form (Word Document, 42 KB)

Imported ticks

The revised Pet Travel Scheme does not require a compulsory treatment of pets for ticks prior to return to the UK. This makes surveillance all the more important. We want to monitor the importation of exotic ticks to better inform public and veterinary health messaging so encourage submissions of any ticks found on recently travelled animals.

If you are sending in ticks collected from a human or animal host who/that has recently returned from travelling abroad, please use the following form:

 Imported tick recording form (Word Document, 44 KB)

If more than one tick is collected from different hosts or different locations they should be placed in separate labelled containers. If more than one tick is collected from the same host or habitat on the same day, they may be sent in one container. All specimens sent in will be identified, and thus provide regular updates for the NBN gateway. This will enhance our knowledge of tick distributions in the British Isles, and improve our understanding of the public health risk posed by ticks and tick-borne infections.

How to send ticks

We provide identification of specimens within two weeks of receipt (lease note that during exceptionally busy times, this may be longer). We will notify you of the identification results if you provide us with email contact details.

Please send any ticks collected in a crush-proof, plastic container (e.g. an old camera film case, or alternatively, plastic vials can be supplied on request to the address or email below) along with the details outlined above to:

Tick Recording Scheme
Public Health England
Porton Down, Wiltshire
Salisbury SP4 0JG
United Kingdom

Email: tick@phe.gov.uk

Posting ticks

The Royal Mail requests that live insects are carefully packaged for posting, so that there is no danger of the ticks escaping or posing any risk to mail handling staff if the package becomes damaged during transit. Please use the screw-top plastic containers provided or ensure that other crush-proof containers are securely fastened (e.g. with tape). Please post the container in a padded envelope with a visible return address and mark the package as 'urgent - live creatures'.

Testing ticks

Public Health England do not routinely test individual ticks for pathogens (such as Lyme borreliosis), as rates of infection in ticks varies seasonally and geographically, and the presence of a pathogen does not necessarily mean that transmission will have taken place. The PHE Lyme reference laboratory does, however, routinely test clinical samples, and more information on Lyme borreliosis symptoms, diagnosis and incidence, can be found at the PHE Lyme disease pages.

The TRS is the only scheme that records tick distributions on a national scale, and we would encourage the public to take part in this scheme by sending in their own samples. Ticks sent to us provide valuable information on the distribution and abundance of the various species present across the UK, their seasonal activity and their host (e.g. human, animals) preference.

The scheme helps the agency monitor how these may be changing and if they are, to investigate the reasons why this may be occurring. The TRS also allows us to detect the presence of species that are not normally resident in the UK. Data from the TRS informs the agency’s assessments of the public health impact of ticks.