Invasive New Tick Species
There is a new invasive tick species in the United States. The Asian Longhorned Tick has been identified in the Northeast and as close as Maryland, West Virginia, Arkansas and North Carolina. This new tick species originates from China, Japan, Russia, Korea, Australia and other South Pacific regions. From the best known studies of introduction, it seems that it has been in our country as early as 2013, however official reports site 2017. With the Asian Longhorned Tick migrating to neighboring states, it is a concern for us to keep a look out for any signs of this species to address pest control measures here in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Asian Longhorned Tick primarily tends to find hosts on livestock animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens; it also has been found on deer, rabbits, bear, rats and birds. Some of our native tick species only feed on specific animals, however the Asian Longhorned tick will feed on anything. When they invade an area, they tend to feed in such large numbers, as to cause such massive blood loss to its host that it dies. The numbers are alarming, considering how fast this new tick can reproduce. Typically ticks found in our area can take two years from fertilization to adult. The Asian Longhorned Tick can lay up to 2,000 eggs that will produce young within 6 months. Under some climate conditions, two generations have been reported in a single season. Add to this fast lifecycle, the female can reproduce without needing a male to fertilize her eggs. They are also quite hardy survivors, as they can live for almost one year without a single feeding and will dig underground to survive an entire winter; even in cold winters of the Northeastern United States.
At this point of what is known of this new species of tick, it seems that mostly livestock, wild animals and outdoor pets are at risk. However this tick has shown behavior in other countries to also use humans as hosts. This poses health risks such as Japanese Spotted Fever, Russian encephalitis and severe fever with thrombocytopenia. Some of these are serious health concerns and should be considered a threat that should warrant regular inspection of your body, pets and livestock for ticks, as usual.
An Adult Asian Longhorned Tick is about the same size as many other ticks in our area (very small). They are light to dark brown in color but do not have any defining shapes or markings to assist in identification. This poses a challenge to positively identify this species. Therefore it is important to always check in tick prone areas such as ears, neck, back, groin, ankles, armpits and all underwear areas. Be careful to always wear pants tucked into your boots or socks, and long sleeved shirts if venturing into high grass or wooded areas of your property. Then inspect thoroughly when undressed. Also, continually check your outside pets for possibility of ticks.
Although the Asian Longhorned Tick has not been verified in Nashville, Tennessee, you want to report any suspicious looking ticks that you find. If you suspect ticks in your area, or in your home make sure to give Certified Pest Control a call so we can identify and define a treatment program to control your tick population.