Asian longhorned tick, the new species of tick found in the U.S. in 2017 has been found in Kentucky, according to the Entomology department at the University of Kentucky. The tick was found on an elk in Martin County, about 2.5 hours from Lexington, in 2018. This is the first new invasive tick species in the U.S. in 50 years. The Asian longhorned tick looks similar to the ticks we are used to in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ticks are particularly invasive because the females can reproduce without mating and produce 1-2,000 eggs at a time. The ticks were first reported in New Jersey in 2018 and have since spread to nine more states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The tick is expected to keep moving west.
According to the CDC, people and animals in other countries have become seriously ill from bites from the Asian longhorned tick, however, as of March 25, 2019, no harmful pathogens have been found in the collected ticks in the U.S. but research is ongoing.
Ticks are already a concern in the spring and summer months so it would be wise to take extra precautions this year.
The CDC recommends five ways to protect yourself against tick-borne illnesses:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin. The items treated will remain protective through several washes.
- Check body, clothing, and pets for ticks after being outdoors.
- Shower within two hours of coming in indoors to reduce your risk of becoming infected.
- Talk to your veterinarian about prevention methods you can take to protect your pets.
For more information on preventing tick bites: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html
Left: Asian Longhorned Tick Nymph and Adult Female, top view.
Right: Asian Longhorned Tick Nymph and adult female, underside.
(Photos from uky.edu Entomology)