Asian longhorned tick (Photo by Anna Pasternak, UK)
By Katie Pratt
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Asian longhorned tick, which preys on a variety of hosts including humans and wild and domestic animals, has been found in Kentucky. This new tick is known to attack animals in large numbers and will be a concern to livestock producers, wildlife enthusiasts and pet owners.
“This tick is an aggressive biter and frequently builds intense infestations on domestic hosts that can cause stress, reduced growth and severe blood loss,” said Jonathan Larson, UK extension entomologist. “One reason for their rapid buildup is that the female ticks can lay eggs without mating. It only takes a single fed female tick to create a population of ticks. Potentially, thousands can be found on an animal.”
The tick has been found in small numbers on elk in Martin County and black bear in Floyd County. It was found in large numbers on a bull in Metcalfe County in the south-central part of the state.
“The Metcalfe County ticks were submitted by a veterinarian who answered a call about a bull so infested that it was showing signs of severe fatigue,” said Anna Pasternak, UK entomology graduate student who manages the Kentucky Tick Surveillance Program. Pasternak and Monica Cipriani, a student in the UK College of Public Health, sampled the Metcalfe County field and found more Asian longhorned ticks.
|Metcalfe County (Wikipedia map)
“The Metcalfe County finding is particularly troubling,” Pasternak said. “It means the tick may have already spread farther across the state.”
The tick is hard to identify because it has no distinctive markings and unfed adults are smaller than other common adult ticks in Kentucky.
Ticks are a bigger problem than they once were, Kentucky Health News reported recently. UK has information on tick-bite prevention and removal at https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef618 and at county offices of the Cooperative Extension Service.