When the Asian longhorned tick Haemaphysalis longicornis was first detected in New Jersey, it might have easily been overlooked as being the native Haemaphysalis lepoporispalustris rabbit tick (or less likely, the bird tick H. chordeilis). Fortunately, there is now a key available to help with the proper identification of these ticks. Andrea Egizi, Jim Occi, and Dina Fonseca, along with a crack team of tick researchers have developed this key to aid those in deciphering the identification of this genus. You can download the paper from Zookeys here.
This month we feature another invasive species, the three-host tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis. A multigenerational infestation of this species was detected in Hunterdon Co. last summer by Tadhgh Rainey (a Rutgers Entomology graduate student!) and IDed using a DNA based approach by Andrea Egizi, also a Rutgers graduate. Some common – and possibly misleading – names are “bush tick” and “long-horned tick”. In New Zealand and parts of Australia, where it was introduced over 100 years ago presumably from Japan, it is called the “New Zealand cattle tick” as it is the only tick feeding on cattle. Originally from northeast Asia (China, Korea, SE Russia, Japan), this tick is commonly found on cattle, sheep, deer and medium-sized mammals. And because it feeds very successfully on large, domestic animals, it is potentially a very big problem for the livestock industry. The other problem is that some populations of this tick are parthenogenetic, which means males are not necessary. Parthenogenesis allows infestations to quickly reach very large numbers – so much so that in certain settings, host animals are weakened by the blood loss. The extent of infestation in NJ/US is still not known. Multiple agencies are currently addressing this issue and we should no more by spring. In this image, there are two females (left and middle) and a nymph on the right (scale in mm). For more information see:https://fonseca-lab.com/research/global-health-the-tick-that-binds-us-all/