Brits are being warned about "monster ticks" which are beginning to appear in the UK and across popular holiday hotspots including Spain and Italy.

Ticks are commonly found in outdoor environments across the UK, particularly in grassy and wooded areas and can carry infections including Lyme disease and in vary rare cases tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

But its the parasite hyalomma lusitanicum, which is said the be four times larger than normal ticks, which is raising concerns among scientists.

The large pest is said to be able to transmit the deadly Crimean-Congo fever (CCHFV) and unlike other ticks actively hunts its prey. 

Pest control specialist, Carlos Pradera speaking to La Vanguardia explained hyalomma lusitanicum's high mobility allows it to wait for an animal or human to pass before leaping onto their skin.

The parasite was originally confined to tropical climates including the likes of Africa and southeast Asia, The Sun reported.

But now the large tick appears to be making its way across Europe and into the UK, carried by wild animals including rabbits.

"Monster tick" sightings in the UK

There have been a number of reported sightings of hyalomma lusitanicum in the UK according to a map from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The map shows sightings have been reported in parts of Wales, the midlands and south east England.

The large tick has also been seen in recent years in holiday hotspots including Spain, the Balearic Islands and southern Italy.

Sightings of hyalomma lusitanicum, according to The Sun, have also now been reported in:

  • Portugal
  • Sardinia
  • Malta
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Northern Italy

How to get rid of these common garden pests

How to avoid ticks and tick-borne infections

To avoid ticks and the diseases they carry, the UK Government recommends when walking in green spaces to "stick to clearly defined paths and try to avoid brushing against vegetation".

The Government adds: "Also consider wearing clothing that covers your skin to make it more difficult for ticks to access a suitable place to bite.

"Use insect repellent (for example DEET) and regularly check clothing or exposed skin so that you can spot any crawling ticks and brush them off."

After spending time outside, in areas where ticks may be present, always check yourself, your clothing, your pets and others for any signs of the parasite.


How to remove ticks

To remove a tick safely, the NHS says to:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool (you can buy these from some pharmacies, vets and pet shops)
  • Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
  • Slowly pull upwards, taking care not to squeeze or crush the tick. Dispose of it when you have removed it
  • Clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water.

For more information about ticks, Lyme Disease or tick-borne encephalitis visit the UK Government or NHS website.