Asian longhorned tick, adult female climbing on a blade of grass. Photo by James Gathany; CDC

Asian longhorn tick found in Morgan County

By Chris Penrose, Professor & Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Morgan County

I became disheartened a few weeks ago after I sent a bunch of ticks to a lab on campus to get identified and they confirmed what I feared: that we have the Asian longhorned tick here in Morgan County. If I am correct, that makes five types of tick we likely have present in the county and many parts of Ohio. Ticks can give us Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and a disease that makes us allergic to red meat.

The Asian longhorned tick (ALT) was found last year in a couple of Ohio counties and the populations of ALT became so high on some cows that they died. That scares me. The good news is there is a team of professionals from OSU, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Health and United States Department of Agriculture that is on top of this and have been very responsive.

What do we know? They are asexual, meaning they do not need a mate to reproduce. Each tick can lay up to 2000 eggs. They move slowly so the spread is very slow unless they “hitch a ride” on humans, animals or equipment. In fact, farms next to an infested field or another field on the same farm over the past year have not seen much spread.

This is a new invasive and treatment options are still evolving but here are a few things to be aware of. First, it appears that most insecticides are effective. However, most do not have a residual and animals can get reinfested in as few as 10 days if they stay in the same infested field. Spraying the field is also an option if there is a bad infestation. Keeping the field clipped will make a less favorable environment for the ticks. These ticks should go dormant in the fall until spring. These ticks can get on most types of livestock, wildlife and pets, so keep a close eye on your animals. Keep your pets on a preventative insect medicine.

For humans, the best way to protect people from this tick is to wear clothing treated with a 0.5% permethrin, a common brand is Sawyer and the application can last several washings. When out in suspected tick infested areas, always tuck pants into boots, and tuck shirt into pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin. Do a thorough tick check daily and shower as soon as possible after returning from an infested area.

As more is learned, we should get better options on how to deal with this tick, especially on livestock. For example, does Ivermectin have longer residual than other products? Will fly tags help? Maybe back rubbers by mineral tubs will help. I do know that we need to keep a sharp eye out for this tick.

If you see multiple ticks on an animal, this should be a cause for concern and you should call your veterinarian or give  your local Ag Extension person a call. We have a factsheet that does a great job explaining these ticks, just search Asian Longhorned tick Ohio State University Extension and it will be right there. Hopefully this does not become too big of an issue, but we need to be prepared, just in case.

For more information about the Asian longhorn tick, see this fact sheet referenced above, Asian Longhorn Tick in Ohio.

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