A BAN on a bracken-controlling pesticide could give rise to more ticks in the Lake District, a charity has warned.

The herbicide Asulam was prohibited by the EU last year over concerns about its safety when used on spinach and other food crops.

But Asulam was used by Cumbrian hill farmers as one of the only methods to control invasive bracken. The plant outcompetes flowers and wildlife and can spread Louping Ill to grouse and sheep as well as provide a habitat for ticks.

Charity BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness-UK) has used Tick Bite Prevention Week, which began on Monday, to warn walkers and outdoor workers of the increased risk of contracting ticks because of the Asulam ban.

Ticks, which are known to have a high population in the Lake District, pass on Lyme Disease through their bites. These can cause a red skin rash, joint swelling, muscle pain, a high temperature and in severe cases neurological symptoms such as facial paralysis.

Wendy Fox, Chair of BADA-UK, who has been left disabled by Lyme disease, said: "We understand perhaps better than most the devastating effects that tick-borne diseases can have if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

“Therefore we strive to help prevent others from falling victim to them. People who frequent bracken-rich areas can be recreationally and occupationally exposed to tick-borne disease, particularly Lyme disease.

Increased interest in outdoor pursuits, combined with an increasing tick population is resulting in a year-on-year rise in cases of tick-borne disease."

Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show that 953 laboratory-confirmed cases of Lyme disease were reported in England and Wales in 2010.

Cumbria health chiefs say the best way to avoid being bitten is to use a repellent, tuck trouser legs into socks to deter ticks from crawling inside clothes, check your body carefully for ticks after being outdoors, protect pets and help companions by checking for ticks in places they cannot see, such as the back of the head and behind their ears.

Dr Nigel Calvert, NHS Cumbria’s Associate Director of Public Health, said: “Living in Cumbria it’s important that we’re all aware of what ticks and Lyme disease are and the importance of trying to avoid being bitten.

“If anyone is out for the day in a woodland or moorland area I’d ask that they just use a bit of common sense, cover up where possible and keep an eye out for ticks, and bites, particularly on pets, who could carry a tick into the home.”