New tick species seen close to Heartland, could hurt cattle farmers

New tick species seen close to Heartland, could hurt cattle farmers
A longhorned tick seen on a leaf. The asian bug has been found in Arkansas, and if it spread to other parts of the Heartand it could cause trouble for cattle farmers. (Credit: Jim Occi, Rugters University, Center for Vector Bilogy)

(KFVS) - A new species of tick is spreading in the U.S. and has now been found in seven states, including a part of Arkansas.

The longhorned tick is an arthropod native to Asia, but if the bug spreads to other parts of the Heartland it could cause trouble for cattle farmers.

Erin Larimore is a Livestock specialist with the University of Missouri Extension office in Cape Girardeau County.

She says researchers in the U.S. do not know what species longhorned ticks in the U.S. might prefer, or what diseases it might carry, but in other parts of the world, it's lead to problems with cattle.

"I think any new insect that is introduced into the area is a potential threat," Larimore said.

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Larimore says deer ticks and lone star ticks are already creating challenges for cattle farmers in Missouri. Adding a third species could cause common cow diseases to spread more.

"We don't have it here, so I don't think that we can say for sure that it's going to be one of those transmitters of anaplasmosis but I think it is certainly a possibility," Larimore said. "Anaplasmosis is huge problem in Missouri. A lot of cattle have it and it's in their system. Whenever we get that tick biting one animal and transmitting that parasite from one to the next is when we see issues."

If a lot of longhorned ticks attach to one cow, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it can lead to anemia and even the animal's death.

"You've got to be in the proactive state because you don't walk out in your field and see dead animals or aborted calves because that is your moneymaker," Lorimore said. "Some of these ticks have a large biting mouth part so it causes a lot of irritation and pain with the bite so you can get production losses there."

Lorimore said ticks can easily go unnoticed and like to lie along the tail head, genitalia, along the belly line, on the udder and inside the ear.

But there are ways to stop the insect from staying on your cows.

"Most of your pyrethroid insecticide are good control methods and you can get those in an ear tag pour-ons or sprays," Lorimore said. "You might be able to feed them and go by with a hand pump sprayer and spray them down with water every two to three weeks to help control those external parasites."

Scientists are still trying to determine exactly how the longhorned ticks made it to the United States.

The USDA says they may have hitched a ride on people, pets, horses, or other livestock.

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