Ticks - suggestions on how to record observations

Is anyone else interested in helping propose guidelines that can be promoted re how to annotate observations of ticks found at the end of a day of exploring?

Sharing an observation of a tick found in the wild (on a plant, or on a rabbit, or one that just hopped on you) is straightforward.

I am looking for suggestions on best ways to share photos of ticks found after one returns home from exploring outdoors (perhaps the tick is crawling around inside your car or up your leg or on your pet or attached behind your ear). The issue is that if you were out exploring many different places it will be impossible to note the location where the tick was picked up.

species
I do believe that it is important for these observations to be shared as people need the means to learn what kind of tick was photographed - iNat is a great tool for this. They should be encouraged to include a coin or a ruler to help with scale.

location
should the home location be used? (i vote no)
should the general county area be used? this would include huge accuracy/precision. (i vote maybe)
should the home location be used but coordinates obscured (maybe)

date/time
it will be important to note that the date/time references when the tick was discovered - this could be hours/days after returning home.

Observation fields
what is needed is a field to indicate that the tick was transported - i would like to recommend using the DwC term ‘pathwayhttps://dwc.tdwg.org/terms/#dwc:pathway All that we need to do is come up with a few good phrases - transported by person, or pet, etc

Also if it tick was attached then a few other DwC terms could be populated → example strong textassociatedTaxa https://dwc.tdwg.org/terms/#dwc:associatedTaxa
this field could be used to say tick found on dog…
it would be great if there was a way to include a reference to the iNat observation of the ‘host’.
(this would work for cases where ticks are seen on other critters in the wild → such as ticks on a rabbit) https://inaturalist.ca/observations/49008847

and … would it be useful to indicate if the tick was engorged?

i trust that anyone who gets grossed out by ticks stopped reading after the first sentence!

suggestions?

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location: if you consciously brought it home (captured it in a jar and brought home to put under a microscope) then location is where you caught it. If you plucked it off your leg when you discovered it at home after a hike in the woods, and are confident it came from that woods, then pin locate at centre of the area you traversed, accuracy circle to cover all parts of… but I also think it is fine to put location as the place you found it, ie at home. Everyone else hiking in that woods and bringing ticks home means the ticks are potentially everywhere anyway! At a stretch, I guess putting pin location as home and marking “location inaccurate” would be a way to say “here is where I found it, but I have no idea when it attached”

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I’d choose this way: if you’re sure where you got it - choose this location, if not and area is not too big - choose all of it, if too big - choose home as you unintentionally got it and it’s a natural way of ticks moving around. If not at home - delete the time from observation, if at home - let it be there. Most ticks if they don’t bite you will be found in first 24 hours after catching it.

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I agree with others. If the first place you saw it was on yourself or a pet, etc., then this is where the interaction with the organism happened. If this is at home, you can obscure if you wish just like any other observation. You could describe other areas you think that it might have come from in the description. I think this would be a good approach even if you think the tick may have come from somewhere quite far away, as it could be a record of a tick vectoring long distance on a human. I think that if you’re quite sure of the original location that the tick got onto you, then having that as a location is fine too. However, if there’s some doubt as to where the tick came from (went to multiple locations, embedded in a wide-ranging pet, etc.), I would go with the “home” location as it is certainly where the interaction occurred.

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(just a quick note that I slightly adjusted the topic title since “annotate” generally has a narrower meaning in the context of iNaturalist, e.g. add an annotation of life stage = egg vs. nymph vs. adult)

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I’m not sure there’s one perfect answer here, just make sure the date, time, and location are consistent with your choice, and be transparent about it in the observation’s description.

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And will the same questions be asked re: chiggers, and/or the resulting rash?

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It might be helpful to track where ticks are located, especially with disease vectors. So it would seem to me to be best to estimate where you picked it up in the first place, and draw the circle as big as it needs to be to cover that possible area.

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If anyone in the UK is reading this then I’d encourage you to send any ticks to the Tick Surveillance Scheme (TSS) (as well as putting on iNat).

Here’s what they want to know, it probably a good starting point for annotating an iNat observation anywhere in the world:

Date the tick was found/removed

Host from which tick was collected
For example human, dog, cat, hedgehog, bat, etc

Has the host recently travelled overseas? (Yes/No)
If yes, please provide travel history with dates, locations visited (including village/town/country if known)

Single geographical location where the tick was most likely acquired

Multiple locations where the tick may have been acquired if single location cannot be determined
Please provide dates if possible

From which part of the host’s body was the tick removed?

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