These invasive ticks can appear in such numbers that they drain cattle of their blood — and they’ve now been found in the US for the first time

Excerpted from MSN : (03/08/2018)

New Jersey residents know they need to look out for ticks. The state has one of the highest concentrations of Lyme disease in the country.

But one recent finding could lead Garden State residents to keep an even closer eye out for the bloodsuckers than normal.

Somehow, an east Asian tick that has the ability to essentially clone itself and is a noted invasive species in other parts of the world made its way to Hunterdon County.

And it wasn’t just an isolated tick. There were more than 1,000 found in the western area of New Jersey.

The story began in August 2017, when a resident showed up at the Hunterdon County Health Department with samples of the ticks that had started crawling on her arm while she’d been shearing a sheep.

Health department officials noticed that the resident’s clothes were covered with the creatures, all tiny larval specimens.

“I get this call from my assistant and he said, ‘We’ve got a resident here who showed up covered in ticks; she’s panicking; now we’re panicking and her pants are in our freezer,'” Tadhgh Rainey, the head of the health department and lead author on a report documenting the incident, told NPR.

The researchers were able to tell that the ticks belonged to the Haemaphysalis genus, but the specimens didn’t match any known Western Hemisphere species. After further analysis, they identified the culprit: Haemaphysalis longicornis, a tick native to East Asia. The species can be parthenogenetic, meaning the ticks can reproduce asexually, essentially cloning themselves (this study provides more details on the unique reproductive processes of these particular ticks).

Other regions of the world have had serious problems with this tick, which is capable of “intense infestations,” according to the study. Sometimes the insects have even killed animals by draining them of blood, a phenomenon known as exsanguination.

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~ by Rob on March 10, 2018.

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