We studied the relationship between climate and Ixodes ricinus L. tick behavior by following every day the proportion of ticks questing in a tick population placed in polyamide mesh-delimited arenas in the field. Simultaneously, the phenology of the questing density of nymphs and adults was studied by sampling ticks in a close location. At any time during the year, the proportion of questing adults was significantly higher (mean 24%) than the proportion of questing nymphs (mean 12%). The proportion of questing nymphs and adults decreased stepwise with time. The proportion of questing adults partially recovered after each decrease. In contrast, the proportion of questing nymphs was strongly reduced during a single short period in June and did not recover even partially. Decrease in the proportion of questing ticks was strongly related either to a peak in saturation deficit or to a drop in maximal relative humidity. No increase in the proportion of questing nymphs was observed in the arenas during autumn, although an autumn peak of nymphs was observed at the sampling location close to the arenas. This suggests that the autumn peak of nymphs observed in nature was due to newly emerged spring-fed larvae and not to reactivated spring active nymphs.
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