Tick season is quickly approaching, a tough time for pet owners and lovers of the outdoors, and it turns out there is a new species that has joined the party. The Asian longhorned tick has found its way to Rhode Island. Will Massachusetts be next?

Brian P. D. Hannon of Eco RI spoke with Thomas Mather, a professor of public health entomology at the University of Rhode Island, about this invasive creature that has found its way onto the mainland of Rhode Island.

Mather tells Hannon he found these ticks in South Kingstown, and these new arachnids seem to differ than the standard deer tick that plagues the SouthCoast in the summer.

Hannon explains, “the Asian longhorned tick is a parthenogenous strain, meaning females produce without mating, and can be found in batches of thousands in grass, shrubbery or on animals.”

Mather confirms that they do not mind being out in the open, an uncommon characteristic of the ticks we are familiar with.

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The longer a tick is attached to a host, the greater the risk of acquiring Lyme Disease. My mother was bit when I was young, and it took several years of shots and treatment to rid her body of the disease. While a new species of tick close to the SouthCoast seems jarring, Mather is happy to report that they don’t seem to like to bite people and the “Asian longhorned isn’t believed to be a Lyme disease carrier.”

As of right now, this new invasive species has not been reported on the SouthCoast, but it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for these creepy-crawlies as we inch closer to tick season.

Visit URI’s tick encounter website for helpful information on how to stay safe this summer.

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