The Longhorned Tick
Formerly referred to as the Asian longhorned tick, the longhorned tick is a menace to livestock, companion animals, and wildlife because it uses animals for dispersal and blood feeds on livestock causing an economic threat to agricultural industries. In native ranges, tick-infested livestock quickly become anemic as a severe infestation can cause anemia and eventually death; this was also reported on a New Jersey sheep operation and among bull-calves in North Carolina. Additionally, this tick is associated with bovine pathogens, canine pathogens, equine pathogens , and human pathogens.
The Problem: Currently, this tick is associated with a Theileria outbreak in several cattle herds in Virginia. Since its original detection in the fall of 2017 in New Jersey, longhorned ticks are now confirmed in 15 states including Tennessee (a state also identified with more than 95% suitable habitat) and from more than 20 different host species. Unlike other North American ticks, this exotic and invasive tick has a univoltine life cycle (1 generation per year) and a parthenogenic reproductive cycle (does not require a male for offspring), which permits rapid population growth.
The Need: Unfortunately, there are many gaps in our current understanding of longhorned ticks in North America including phenology, dispersal, and blood-feeding effects (health, welfare, and economics including pathogen transmission). While we suspect this tick will be a problem, we lack the foundational, educational, and management information for those at risk (companion animals, livestock, and wildlife) and those stakeholder helping to solve the problem (Extension, veterinarians, and producers).
Our Role at UT: Our objectives are to expand surveillance efforts for this pest; to assess prevention, detection, and response strategies; and to develop educational materials as a first step in protecting animals from this tick species.