University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


You probably don’t know a lot about the tick

Not a bug — Information gaps, scare campaigns, and pharmacies selling 'bug tweezers'. There are still many misunderstandings, and there is a lack of knowledge about the tick in both Denmark and the rest of Europe. That's why we've teamed up with 18 European universities in a huge research project – and we need your help.

Every year during the spring and summer period in Denmark, you read about ticks in the media.

Headlines like ‘Check yourself: This is how you avoid the dangerous ticks’, ‘Watch out: The ticks are now taking over Danish gardens’ or ‘Giant tick found in Denmark’ can seem like scare campaigns and can make people afraid of being out in nature.

But can people handle all these warnings? What does the ordinary member of the general public actually know about ticks? Do they know enough about them to be able to use this information when they are out in nature?

Needs a lot more information


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We need more knowledge about this. The headlines withstanding, the general public does not have sufficient knowledge about ticks – and this knowledge varies dramatically across countries in the EU.

There are differences in the level of knowledge from country to country. But there are also big differences in the diseases that ticks can carry and how severe they are. This is why it also varies how authorities in the individual countries communicate about ticks to the general public.

Many European countries, for example, offer their citizens vaccines against certain tick-borne viruses, whereas vaccines are the citizens’ own responsibility in other countries, including Denmark. But without objective information and knowledge about ticks and tick-borne diseases, it can be difficult for an individual to decide whether to get themselves vaccinated.

That stuff about bugs and ticks

Another information gap is a purely linguistic one. And this actually means something. Because it can lead to unnecessary concerns in harmless situations. Conversely, it can lead to a lack of vigilance when there is reason to be on careful.

Not a tick! Elasmostethus interstinctus is a bug
image: Zirpe CC BY-SA 3,0, Wikimedia
A tick! Ixodes ricinus, the castor bean tick
image: James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster, CC Commons license

True bugs, for example, are not ticks. Many Danes confuse ticks with true bugs; the much larger, beatle-like, insects that crawl around gardens and that are utterly harmless. And it does not help that even pharmacies sell tick-remover tweezers under the name ‘bug tweezers’.

It is hard to say how the misunderstanding arose. But the two animals are actually quite different. The bloodsucking tick belongs to the arachnid family, which also includes spiders and mites. And it doesn’t look like a true bug at all. But ignorance is prevalent among the general populace.

Help us help you


UCPH has joined 18 universities throughout Europe.

The research project will map out Europeans’ knowledge of ticks.

Help us by taking part in the study here. It takes approximately 10 minutes.

In order to better inform the general public, the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) has teamed up with tick researchers from 18 other European universities to combine their efforts. As a general rule, they would like to know how much Europeans know about ticks and their illnesses. This is the only way that they can better target campaigns in individual countries.

They do this by means of a questionnaire where they ask about people’s knowledge of ticks, tick-borne diseases, and how to protect themselves against them. The questionnaire is written in the national languages of the participating countries and contains 21 questions. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.