Where will they invade next?
In past blogs about the invasive Asian long horned tick, I discussed that the CDC and other health agencies are monitoring this species closely. Researchers are concerned because this species has caused serious illness in humans, pets and livestock in its native Asia as well as New Zealand and Australia after it established significant populations. In addition, this tick species is parthenogenetic, meaning the ticks can reproduce asexually, basically by the female tick cloning themselves. This unique reproduction method means that this tick can reproduce quickly without the presence of males and become established in new areas easier than most other tick species.
Since this tick species was discovered in New Jersey in 2017 it has been found in eight other states (confirmed sightings of this invasive tick have occurred Maryland, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania in 2018). see above map – counties where Asian tick found in 2018
Researchers are now developing predicative models to determine where this invasive pest likely will establish endemic populations in the future. The foremost modelling to date has been developed by an entomologist associated with the Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology -Dr. Ilia Rochlin. Her study looked at annual rainfall and temperature from 260 locations in Asia, New Zealand and Australia where the tick has been reported. She then has developed a model that would combine this data with climate data from North America to determine desirable geographic locations for this tick species to establish new endemic populations.
The study concluded that desirable areas where new populations could thrive in North America include coastal areas from eastern Canada, such as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; down south to Virginia and North Carolina; and from southern British Columbia to northern California on the Pacific coast. The report also notes the inland habitats where this species could survive and thrive desirable areas include those from northern Louisiana to Wisconsin and into southern Ontario and Quebec, as well as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. See map
In summary, scientists are uncertain and when the Asian long horned tick first entered the United States but they do know it is quite capable of expanding into new areas of North America.