New invasive tick discovered on the Vineyard

Tick expert says this is “not a huge concern” for people.


An invasive species of tick known as the Asian longhorned tick has been found on Martha’s Vineyard for the first time.

Tick expert Patrick Roden-Reynolds and his colleagues were sampling for deer tick nymphs at a private property in Chilmark on June 9 when they found the longhorn tick. “We happened to pick up a couple mysterious ticks,” Roden-Reynolds said.

Those two mysterious ticks were then sent to a lab for testing, where it was quickly confirmed that they were Asian longhorns.

About a week later, Roden-Reynolds collected a third one in Aquinnah. So far, there are only three confirmed longhorned tick nymphs on the Island, but Roden-Reynolds believes that there are more out there.

But he stressed that this is “not a huge concern.”

“Longhorned ticks aren’t really known to bite humans,” Roden-Reynolds said. “We’re still more worried about deer ticks, lone star ticks, and dog ticks.”

Longhorn ticks are more likely to bite cattle and other livestock, as well as deer and dogs. 

The most common diseases carried by Asian longhorned ticks in other countries are bovine theileriosis and babesiosis. However, there are no reported cases of the tick carrying disease in the U.S.

It is unknown if this tick will transmit existing tick-borne pathogens in the U.S. According to Roden-Reynolds, it cannot carry Lyme disease.

Originating from East Asia, longhorned ticks were first reported in the U.S. in 2017, and in Massachusetts in 2022. Three weeks ago, they were also identified on Nantucket. 

According to Roden-Reynolds, it’s impossible to know for sure how the longhorn ticks got to the islands, but there is suspicion that they were brought over by people’s dogs.

Asian longhorned ticks are light reddish-brown and approximately 0.1 inches long, about the size of a sesame seed. They do not have distinctive markings, compared with, say, the lone star tick. When fully engorged with blood, longhorned ticks grow to about the size of a pea, and turn gray. 

Longhorned ticks are parthenogenic, meaning that the females can lay eggs without a male. One adult female can lay up to 3,000 eggs. 

Roden-Reynolds emphasized that this should be considered “just another tick in the environment.”

He advised to continue with tick prevention strategies such as using repellent and doing tick checks.


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