Asian longhorned ticks

Nymph and adult female Asian longhorned ticks, photo courtesy CDC

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JEFFERSON CITY — A species of tick whose females can reproduce without mating has been found for the first time in Missouri, the state Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday.

The female Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) can produce up to 1,000 offspring "at a time" without a mate, the department said in a news release, meaning animals could host thousands of ticks, causing them “great stress.”

The release said the light brown arachnid's reproduction strategy was "unlike other ticks." Missouri is the 16th state to report the tick, which can be "smaller than a sesame seed," the release said.

The release said the Department of Agriculture confirmed the tick's presence in Missouri working with the Department of Health and Senior Services and Missouri State University. The release said the "first confirmed presence" was in Greene County, in southwest Missouri.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of October, 15 states had reported the species: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The CDC said the ticks were first recorded in the United States in 2017. It said the ticks "have been found on pets, livestock, wildlife and people." Compared to some native species, including the blacklegged tick, lone star tick and American dog tick, the agency said "the Asian longhorned tick appears to be less attracted to human skin.”

The Missouri Department of Agriculture said in a release it “encourages producers to continue protective measures and to check their livestock regularly for ticks. Keeping grass and weeds trimmed and clearing away brush are important tick prevention practices. If you spot any unusual looking ticks or large infestations on your animals, contact your local veterinarian.

“Ticks of any kind should be removed immediately, as they can carry diseases that affect human health,” the state said. “Use EPA-approved insect repellent when you will be in or near tall grasses or wooded areas.”

Jack Suntrup • 573-556-6186

@JackSuntrup on Twitter

jsuntrup@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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