Self-cloning mites from East Asia invade the US

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(ORDO NEWS) — They can seriously harm the country’s livestock production. The Asian tick Haemaphysalis longicornis is known for carrying dangerous diseases affecting livestock. This creature does not need a breeding partner, which allows the females to create a rapidly growing population.

Ticks have been reported in at least 12 states this year, and experts believe the invasion may have started with as few as three from East Asia.

Haemaphysalis longicornis was first found in the United States back in 2017 by the Rutgers Vector Biology Center in New Jersey. Since then, ticks have infiltrated Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and possibly Maine.

This species has two forms, one with males and females, and the other with self-cloning females that lay eggs without the need for mating. This form of reproduction is known as parthenogenesis – here are just a few of our articles in which we have described this “virgin reproduction”:

  • Sawfish can reproduce immaculately;
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  • Single mothers: Komodo lizards.

In the early 20th century, these arachnids invaded Australia and New Zealand and caused significant damage to the livestock industry in these countries. Experts warn that a similar scenario is now possible in the United States.

Haemaphysalis longicornis is known to carry various diseases in Asia, but they have not yet been reported in the US. But there is a possibility that ticks become carriers of diseases already known in the United States, such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus.

Rutgers Vector Biology Center researchers collected tick samples to identify genetic similarities and differences between different populations. They found that all of the ticks they found were genetically identical to only three separate female ticks, which probably caused the entire population to emerge in the United States.

Scientists are inclined to believe that Haemaphysalis longicornis entered the United States from Asia rather than from Australia or New Zealand. They assume that the ticks were introduced during the transportation of pets or livestock.

“One thing we found is the ease with which pets, especially dogs, can accidentally help ticks cross international borders. Many countries require dogs to be treated for ticks and other parasites before entering the country, but this is not done in the United States. ”- Dina Fonseca, director of the Center for Vector Biology in the Department of Entomology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.


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