The news that the ticks are finding refuge under the bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) litter just adds to the fact that bracken fern is a serious problem throughout the UK.
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Increasing numbers of blood-sucking parasites which live on farm animals, are threatening livelihoods in Powys, warn farmers.

More than 50 have attended a meeting and were told by vets that tick numbers had "shot up" since the 1980s.

John Pugh, who farms near Rhayader, said he had lost lambs to louping-ill, a virus transmitted by ticks.

The UK Government launched an investigation earlier this year into an apparent rise in the numbers.

Mr Pugh, from Llanwrthwl, Powys, said ticks were a particular problem for farmers in his village.

He claimed their increase was linked to the growth of bracken. Ticks seek refuge under the dead leaves during the winter.

Infected ticks

Mr Pugh said: "Ticks thrive on acid land which occurs where bracken has been growing for a great number of years.

"The grass is ungrazed so that ticks are thriving in this habitat and the situation is affecting our livelihoods."

The UK government launched an investigation earlier this year.

Areas of Devon and Lancashire have been reporting more cases of louping-ill,

It is also suggested up to 2,000 people now get Lyme disease in the UK each year - caused by a bacteria passed to humans through infected ticks' bites.

Experts have been looking at whether climate change and a rising population of deer, which also host ticks, could be to blame.

The Farmers' Union of Wales has also warned that ticks are on the increase.

Chairman of the hill farming committee, sheep farmer Derek Morgan, said numbers had risen.

"They are a particular problem on Llanwrthwl hill at the moment," said Mr Morgan, who farms near Llangurig, Powys.

"Years ago there was less bracken or fern, but environmental attitudes have seen less grazing and this is maybe why fern and therefore the tick has increased."

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