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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #440741

Research Project: Field and Laboratory Studies of the Invasive Introduced Longhorned Tick Haemaphysalis Longicornis

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32000-012-023-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 31, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2026

The incidence of human disease caused by tick-borne pathogens such as the agents causing Lyme disease is rapidly increasing. Native and invasive tick species are expanding their ranges as the climate warms and these expanding ranges are a critical component of the increase in human disease risk. Populations of the introduced tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis (also known as the longhorned tick) are especially concerning. A large population of this tick was first identified in 2018 in northern New Jersey and subsequently longhorned ticks have spread rapidly into parts of at least 15 eastern and southern states. In its native range this invasive tick is a vector of pathogens causing diseases of both humans and livestock. In addition, because it is parthenogenetic populations of this invasive tick can reach high levels very rapidly, leading to significant impacts due to the large tick burden alone, even in the absence of pathogen transmission. ARS scientists are seeking to understand the potential range and to identify improved methods for managing this invasive tick. The objectives for this research are: 1) Determine the current and potential range of longhorned ticks in Maryland and elsewhere and develop and apply molecular population genetic tools to trace invasive populations to their points of origin. 2) Assembled tools for working with longhorned ticks in the lab including development of artificial membrane feeding systems for tick rearing and bioassays for testing of repellents, toxicants, and biocontrol agents.

USDA ARS scientist will collaborate with colleagues at Rutgers University to undertake studies of distribution and control of the invasive introduced tick, Haemophysalis longicornis. The current and potential range of longhorned ticks in Maryland and elsewhere will be determined by: 1) surveying areas of the state to assess the current distribution, 2) determining the phenology and host preferences of established populations of the ticks, 3) developing an understanding of the biogeography of the tick in order to identify areas that are at risk of invasion, and 4) developing population genetic tools for studies to enable source tracing of invasive U.S. populations and possible international source populations. Tools to be developed for working with longhorned ticks in the lab will include: 1) developing an artificial feeding and rearing system for longhorned ticks, and 2) establishment of laboratory bioassays for testing repellents, toxicants, and biocontrol agents target to the longhorned tick.