WestConn researchers have found the first Asian longhorned tick in Connecticut. The invasive species can harm livestock and, where it originates in Asia, can carry deadly diseases. So far the tick is not known to be a danger to humans in the U-S.
WCSU Biology Department graduate Brittany Schappach, who works as a research assistant for the WCSU Tickborne Disease Prevention Laboratory, collected the tick on July 3rd during weekly tick monitoring for the lab. She says the size, shape and color were all different from the blacklegged ticks usually collected.
Lab Director Dr. Neeta Connally said it looked very similar to rabbit ticks so she sent it to the Center for Vector Biology at Rutgers University where it was first identified using DNA analysis. The tick can feed on many different types of animals, including mammals and birds, and is particularly unusual because it also has the ability to reproduce without mating.
This species of tick was recently detected in neighboring New York state, but Connally said they had not seen any unusual ticks among the thousands collected from both residential properties and public forests. The tick has been found in eight other states including Arkansas, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.