Asian Longhorned Ticks In West Virginia

Asian Longhorn Tick

The start of West Virginia’s spring turkey season brings two things to my mind: turkeys gobbling in the distance, and the appearance of ticks in West Virginia.

Anyone who spending much time outdoors knows that when the weather warms up daily tick checks begin. This year, there is a new species of tick in West Virginia to be wary of, the Asian Longhorned Tick.

What you need to know about the Asian Longhorned Tick

The Asian Longhorned Tick was first discovered in the United States in 2017, according to the CDC. It was first identified on a sheep in New Jersey.

Since then it has been found in eighteen states – Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Asian Longhorned Tick is native to northeast Asia where they are harmful to livestock and pets. They can cause a decrease in milk production in cows. Their bites have also been associated with a decreased wool production in sheep.

Despite the initial discovery in 2017, it may have been here since as long as 2013. Currently, there has been no evidence of Asian Longhorn Ticks in WV carrying pathogens.

While the Asian Longhorned Tick looks like other ticks native to West Virginia, there is one thing that separates it from other tick species. The Asian Longhorned Tick can reproduce without mating. Through a process called parthenogenesis, the female Asian Longhorned Tick can lay up to 2,500 eggs without mating with a male.

The Asian Longhorned Tick has been identified in 29 counties in West Virginia.

Due to its ability to reproduce rapidly it is likely that it will make its way to all 55 counties in WV. See the county map below where the Asian Longhorned Tick has been identified in West Virginia.

Ticks in WV
Asian Longhorned Tick Map

How to protect yourself from ticks

Surprisingly, I’ve been removing ticks from myself and my dogs since late February here in West Virginia. In late winter and early spring I take my dogs shed hunting. After every hike through the woods multiple ticks were on both dogs.

The mild winter we experienced has led to ticks appearing earlier than normal. Their early appearance may indicate a high tick population in WV this year.

There are several things you can do to protect yourself from ticks in West Virginia. The simplest is to avoid the places that are most likely to hold ticks.

As someone who enjoys being outdoors, I realize this is neither possible, nor foolproof. It is important to improve our prevention skills knowing that we will be likely to encounter ticks while enjoying our hobbies.

Ticks in West Virginia

There are several strategies you can employ to protect yourself from ticks in West Virginia while still enjoying your time outside.

  • Thoroughly check yourself after being outside in areas ticks are known to be found.
  • Shower soon after returning indoors.
  • Wear light colored clothing when going outdoors to make ticks easier to see.
  • Spray your clothes with Permethrin. Permethrin is toxic to ticks. Remember to let clothes dry before wearing.
  • Tuck your pants into your boots or socks. This creates an additional barrier for ticks to get onto your skin.
  • Make sure your pets are up to date on their tick medicine.

Creating a regular routine to check yourself for ticks after being outside helps to find ticks before they attach themselves.

However, if you do find one already attached, the best way to remove it is to using tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.

Grabbing the tick by its head and pulling straight upward will remove the attached tick from the body.

in Summary

Due to the ever increasing presence of ticks in West Virginia, avoiding common areas for ticks when hiking, hunting, or just enjoying nature can be almost impossible.

Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses can be severe and debilitating. Knowing what to do when you encounter one and how to stay safe is of the utmost importance to allow you to continue enjoying all the outdoor activities West Virginia has to offer.

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Asian Longhorned Ticks In West Virginia FAQ

How did the Asian Longhorned Tick get to West Virginia?

The Asian Longhorn Tick was first identified in New Jersey in 2017. Since then its ability to reproduce without mating has allowed it to spread across the eastern United States.

Is the Asian Longhorned Tick in all of West Virginia?

The Asian Longhorned Tick has not been identified in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties. It is currently present in 29 counties in West Virginia.

Does the Asian Longhorned Tick cause lyme disease?

A recent scientific study determined the Asian Longhorned Tick is unlikely to contribute to the spread of Lyme disease in the United States.

Is lyme disease common in West Virginia?

Lyme disease cases are on the rise in West Virginia with numbers increasing every year. There have been confirmed cases in all 55 counties of West Virginia. In 2022, there were 1,542 cases of Lyme Disease in WV.

What type of ticks are in West Virginia

Types of ticks in WV include the American Dog Tick, Deer Tick, and Lonestar Tick.

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