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Asian Longhorned Ticks Coming Your Way?

Posted by Staff of goGardenNow on

Asian longhorned tick (Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

(Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Since first being reported in the United States, Asian longhorned ticks have been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. If they haven't arrived already, they could be coming to your own back yard. Here's what  you need to know:

  • Asian longhorned ticks have been found on pets, livestock, wildlife, and people.
  • The female ticks can lay eggs and reproduce without mating.
  • Thousands of ticks may be found at a time in grass or shrubs or on an animal.
  • Researchers are looking for these ticks to find out where they live and if they prefer wooded or more open areas.
  • Compared with well-known native ticks (such as the blacklegged tick, lone star tick and American dog tick), the Asian longhorned tick appears to be less attracted to human skin.
  • In other countries, germs spread via bites from these ticks can make people and animals seriously ill.
    • With ongoing testing of ticks collected in the United States, it is likely that some ticks will be found to contain germs that can be harmful to people. However, we do not yet know if and how often these ticks are able to pass these germs along to people and make them ill. 
    • One recent experimental study found that this tick is not likely to contribute to the spread of Lyme disease bacteria in the United States.
    • Another laboratory study found that this tick has the ability to carry and spread the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Rickettsia rickettsii). The germs that cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever have not yet been found in these ticks in nature.
    • Research is ongoing.
  • You can protect yourself from tick bites.  CDC-recommended personal protective measures such as the use of EPA-approved insect repellents and 0.5% permethrin-treated clothing are effective against Asian longhorned ticks.

(Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

If you think that you've found an Asian longhorned tick, or if you're just not sure,

  1. Remove the tick as quickly as possible from the person or animal. Tweezers will help you remove the entire tick.
  2. Preserve it in alcohol. Notify your doctor or veterinarian.
  3. Take it to a Cooperative Extension Service Office for identification. Use this interactive map to find the office nearest you.

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