An exotic species of tick that survived the winter in Hunterdon County has now been found in another part of New Jersey.
The East Asian tick, also known as Longhorned tick or the bush tick, was found on the Watchung Reservation in Union County, the NewJersey Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday. The tickwas collected at the site last May, but identification was not made until Monday.
The Watchung Reservation is about 40 miles from the Hunterdon County farm where the tick was found last August. That tick was identified as the East Asian tick in November.
It is still unknown how the tick, which was not previously known to exist in the United States, made it to New Jersey. It was found by a farmer who was shearing a sheep on an unidentified Hunterdon County farm.
The sheep has never traveled internationally and has rarely left Hunterdon County, according to Andrea Egizi, a tick specialist at the Monmouth County Tick-borne Disease Lab.
The department of agriculture said several local, state and federal animal health officials, as well as Rutgers University, are working together to identify the range of the ticks and develop a plan to eliminate them from the Watchung Reservation, a county park that is over 2,000 acres in size that includes a public stable and nature center.
Officials will continue to monitor Hunterdon County as well, where steps were taken were taken to eradicate the insect from the farm by using a chemical wash on the sheep and removing tall grass where the they are known to dwell.
Department of Agriculture officials are saying that its animal and plant health inspection service team and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife are examining white-tailed deer near the Hunterdon County farm after confirming that an East Asian Tick was found on one on April 24. The deer was first examined on April 19, and is now the first finding of the tick feeding on wildlife.
Although the ticks are known to carry diseases, such as spotted fever rickettsioses in other parts of the world, tests performed on the ticks and the farm animals in Hunterdon County were negative for diseases. The department of agriculture did not say if the tick found in Union County carried any diseases.
The Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology and the Monmouth County Mosquito Control Division will also be hosting a tick blitz on May 10. Mosquito control commission members from throughout the state will be collecting ticks from from each county in New Jersey during the blitz.
The nymphs of the East Asian Ticks are very small, resemble small spiders and are easy to miss, according to the Department of Agriculture. They are dark brown, about the size of a pea when full grown and can be found in tall grasses.
They are known to swarm and infest a variety of wildlife as well as humans, dogs, cats and livestock.
Authorities are asking people to contact the state veterinarian at 609-671-6400 if they see any unusual ticks on their livestock.
Unusual ticks detected in wildlife should be reported to the NewJersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau or Wildlife Management at 908-637-4173, ext. 120.