State scientist Goudarz Molaei pulled a square of cloth through brush and grass on the Stratford coast recently, then stopped and pointed to a crawling smear of larvae on the white fabric.
The tiny arachnids were either Gulf Coast or lone star ticks, two of three invasive species, along with the Asian long-horned tick, that have recently established footholds in Connecticut.
First seen only in pockets near the coast, the blood-sucking, disease-carrying ticks have spread into other parts of the state. Compared with past years, many more worried residents and visitors have submitted ticks to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, mostly deer ticks that may carry Lyme disease, Molaei said. The tally so far in 2021 is 4,700 tick submissions to the testing laboratory, compared with a total annual average of 3,000 submissions.
Milder winters and warmer temperatures overall are helping the ticks survive and thrive in Connecticut.
“This is going to be a major public health concern in the near future, if it is not already,” Molaei said. (See link for article)
- Previously only .2% of submitted ticks were lone star ticks which increased to 4.2% this year. They transmit ehrlichiosis, STARI, spotted fever rickettsiosis, tularemia, Alpha-gal allergy, and Heartland and Bourbon Viruses.
- The researcher states that it’s a matter of time before the entire state of Connecticut will be infested with Asian long-horned tick – the tick that can reproduce by cloning. It is supposedly less attracted to human skin but can spread diseases that make both animals and humans seriously ill.
- The Gulf Coast tick overwintered successfully in Connecticut but currently is limited to coastal areas. Thirty percent tested there were infected with rickettsiosis, which is similar to but less serious than Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- The deer tick, or blacklegged tick transmits Lyme disease and is active any time temperatures are above freezing. All life stages bite humans.
- The following percentages of ticks were sent to the Experiment Station this year:
- 72.8% deer ticks (32% were positive for Lyme, 10% for Babesia, 4% for Anaplasmosis – and 2% tested positive for at least 2 disease agents concurrently)
- 23.1% American dog ticks
- the rest were lone star ticks