The blanket deceives the ticks into believing a furry animal has just walked by so they jump on board.

We’ve gone only 30 paces into our walk in Richmond Park, south-west London, before Prof Cutler says it’s time to flip over the blanket.

There, in the corner, are a trio of ticks.

I’m shocked at how little effort it took to find them and by how small they are. You could fit dozens of them on a fingernail.

These are nymphs, the second stage in the tick’s life cycle.

Ticks hatch as six-legged larvae and gorge themselves so much on their first blood-meal they sprout an extra pair of legs (and I thought I was stuffed after a Christmas dinner), becoming nymphs.

The nymphs we found are already able to spread disease, and because they are so small they are easy to miss. In the dense thicket of my hairy legs, I doubt I would notice if one had latched on.

“We can still see where we parked the car, but it just shows that even in verges, in your back garden, all kinds of areas, you could have ticks,” says Prof Cutler.

“Here we are in the middle of London, but ticks are going to be pretty well anywhere in the UK,” she says.

They are most commonly found in grassy and wooden areas.


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