The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) is native to China, Japan, and Korea. Unfortunately, this tick has been in the United States since 2010. Now it’s in Caldwell County.

The N.C. Wildlife Commission collected this tick from a deer in the county. Currently, this tick is confirmed to be in 130 counties across 15 states. North Carolina has 11 confirmed counties, with Caldwell County being the newest county added to the list. Wilkes and Alexander counties also are on the list.

This tick has been found on pets, livestock, wildlife, and people. However, compared with well-known native ticks (such as the blacklegged tick, lone star tick, and American dog tick), the Asian longhorned tick appears to be less attracted to human skin. No human pathogens have been detected in U.S. populations of this tick. However, there are two major concerns with this new tick.

Scientists have linked this tick to a parasitic pathogen (Theileria orientalis Ikeda) that infects cattle, causing the disease theileriosis. The Asian longhorn tick transmits this pathogen when it bites the animal to take a blood meal. This parasitic pathogen was not in the United States prior to the Asian longhorn tick. Currently, this disease has been found only in three Virginia cattle herds. However, in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, this disease is a major health concern for cattlemen, and it causes substantial economic losses and death of animals.

The other major concern with this tick is how fast it can reproduce. The Asian longhorn tick lays between 900 and 3,300 eggs, and it takes 89 days for the eggs to become mature adults. By comparison, while the lone star tick lays about the same number of eggs, it takes three years for the eggs to become mature adults.

To protect yourself from the Asian longhorn tick, do the same thing you would to keep native ticks away. Use insect repellent and treat clothing with approved permethrin repellent. Treating pets with a flea preventative pesticide typically prevents ticks, too. Contact your veterinarian for additional advice on tick control. Treating livestock with pyrethroid sprays or pour-on insecticide will provide protection for those animals. Read the label fully before applying any pesticide.

If you suspect Asian longhorned ticks, a positive identification can be made through the Caldwell Extension Center. Put the ticks in a container of 90% rubbing alcohol and call 828-757-1290, or you can find additional contact information on our website caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu.

Seth Nagy is the Caldwell County Cooperative Extension director. The Caldwell County Cooperative Extension Center, 120 Hospital Ave. NE #1 in Lenoir, provides access to resources of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University through educational programs and publications.

Seth Nagy is the Caldwell County Cooperative Extension director. The Caldwell County Cooperative Extension Center, 120 Hospital Ave. NE #1 in Lenoir, provides access to resources of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University through educational programs and publications.