In September 2017, Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences in New Jersey confirmed that the tick found on a sheep in Hunterdon County, New Jersey was as Haemaphysalis longicornis commonly know as an Asian long horned tick. This was the first officially documented sighting of an Asian long horned tick in the United States. Its native range is in China, Korea and Japan and has become established in Australia and New Zealand where it has become a significant livestock pest.
Since its discovery in New Jersey laboratory confirmed sightings of this invasive tick have occurred Maryland, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania.
This rapid spread of this tick can be in part to its ability to reproduce without fertilization. After taking a bloodmeal the female will lay up to 2,000 genetically identical eggs. Two to three months later, the eggs hatch without any male fertilization, and become virtually carbon copies of the mother female tick. This type asexual reproduction is called parthenogenesis. Out of over 800 tick species found in the world, entomologists have identified only about than 20 tick species that can reproduce in this unique way.
This type of reproduction process raise concerns as the parthenogenesis permits the reproduction cycle to be quicker than sexual mating. Entomologist estimate the Asian long horned tick will be able to reproduce in about six months compared to the two year reproduction cycle of the native blacklegged tick which is commonly known as the deer tick. This can lead to greater tick numbers in a relatively short duration. In addition, using this cloning process only one tick is needed to start a new population making it easier to establish in new areas of the United States and southern Canada.
Scientist are uncertain what parts of North America these invasive tick species will be found in 2019 but do know that parthenogenesis will give them an advantage in establishing populations in new locales.