Asian Longhorn Tick has been identified in Delaware this summer season

A “new” tick has joined with six other tick species considered to be a threat to pets and humans in Delaware.

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, field agents have spotted and identified the Asian Longhorn Tick for the first time in Delaware when five Asian Longhorn tick nymphs – immature ticks – were found in late June in northern New Castle County.

Delaware’s tick biologist Lauren Maestas visually identified the ticks, and his finding was confirmed through genetic analysis by the Center for Vector Biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, according to a press release.

The tick was first spotted in North America in 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control.

As of Aug. 1, longhorned ticks have been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, the CDC states.

While there have been no reports of Asian longhorned tick-borne illness occurring in the United States, in other countries, bites from these ticks have made people seriously ill.

According to Infectious Disease Epidemiologist Paula Eggers of the Delaware Division of Public Health, no disease-causing agents for people have been found to date in Asian longhorned ticks collected in the United States.

The ticks have been responsible for making people ill from their bite in their native habitat, however.

The Asian longhorned tick is known to swarm livestock and horses in great numbers, leading to substantial loss of blood and, if the ticks are not removed, possible death of the animals, according to Deputy State Veterinarian Dr. Karen Lopez of the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Asian longhorned ticks have been reported infesting wildlife, including mammals and birds. The impact of the Asian longhorned tick on wildlife health in the United States, and the role of wildlife in its spread, is currently unknown.

Only two instances of Asian longhorned ticks attached to humans have been confirmed in the United States, and there have been no reported instances of disease transmission to humans or animals. 

Residents are advised that the ticks reside typically in grassy meadows adjacent to woodlands and can attach themselves to clothing.

DNREC recommends standard tick prevention, including wearing long-sleeved shirts, tucking pantlegs in, and the use of DEET insect repellant.