The invasive population of Asian longhorned ticks in the United States most likely began with just a tiny number of self-cloning females native to northeastern Asia.
The animals have been known to carry debilitating diseases. In the United States and elsewhere, ticks can be a severe threat to pets and livestock.
In 2017, researchers from the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology detected an infestation of longhorned ticks – native to East Asia – in New Jersey.
Subsequent investigations found the ticks to have spread to the eastern US as well.
Rutgers researchers later established that Asian longhorned ticks have already been present in New Jersey since at least 2013, four years after the first confirmed report.
In Canada, the Public Health Ontario even suggested that Asian longhorned ticks might have arrived much earlier in New Jersey, in 1969, through the importation of infected horses.
In California, a similar case occurred in the mid-1980s.
There are many things researchers still don’t know about Asian longhorned ticks, for example, their preferred habitats and whether the animals can carry and transmit life-threatening diseases to people outside their native habitats. Among what researchers know so far are as follows.
10 Less Attracted To Human
Asian longhorned ticks appear to be less attracted to a human, at least compared to some species native to the United States. Bites from these ticks spread germs that can make people and animals seriously ill, at least in other countries.
With ongoing research in the United States, Asian longhorned ticks will likely carry harmful germs. Even when they do, it remains unclear whether they can pass the germs to people and cause illnesses.
9 Death By Anemia In Livestock
The threat to livestock is real. According to Lyme Disease Association, five cows in North Carolina were found dead after swarms of Asian longhorned ticks had drained blood from the livestock.
Infestation of hundreds of these ticks was found in each cow carcass. The cause of death was severe anemia.
Female Asian longhorned ticks can reproduce without mating. This is why they are sometimes referred to as “clone ticks.” People who have pets and livestock have been warned to remain vigilant.