Urgent: The newest deadly tick danger

Ticks suck… in every sense of the word.

First, they latch on to your body and literally suck your blood (which is gross enough on it’s own). Then they have the nerve to inject you with bacteria and viruses that can make you extremely ill… or even kill you.

Who do these ticks think they are?

In all fairness, they’re just doing what they’re designed to do… suck blood like small, sneaky vampires. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything in your power to protect yourself from these little suckers.

In the States, there are about a half dozen ticks that transmit disease. That means there are about half dozen ticks you need to avoid like the plague, because they basically are one….

Their populations are exploding. They’re making people super sick. And — fun fact — some of them carry the bacteria that causes the actual plague.

So, what types of ticks do you need to watch out for?

All of them, unless you like creepy little bugs sucking your blood. But especially, the disease-carrying varieties, like the:

  • American dog tick
  • Black legged tick (also know as the deer tick and the sucker that causes Lyme disease)
  • Brown dog tick
  • Gulf Coast tick
  • Lone star tick
  • Rocky Mountain wood tick
  • Western black-legged tick

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The new tick on the block

But hold up…

There’s one more tick to watch out for. You still won’t find this guy on any lists of America’s most (un)wanted ticks, because he just made his way stateside last year.

But even though he’s the new tick on the block, he’s making a name for himself… quick.

I’m talking about the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis).

This Asian tick is already a problem in Australia and New Zealand. It carries a virus that kills 15 percent of its victims.

Last summer, it popped up in Western New Jersey. And now it’s spread to New York, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Luckily, the Asian longhorned ticks that have turned up in America haven’t carried any human diseases… yet. And they haven’t been found on any humans yet either.

So, far they’ve been found on horses, dogs, deer, a calf, a sheep and an opossum. And they get pretty gruesome with the animals they feed on. These ticks reproduce quickly and can suck enough blood out of a young animal to kill it. They’re seriously like mini vampires.

So, while there’s no reason to let the Asian longhorned tick keep you up at night, do your best to avoid it (just like you do other ticks). It’s only a matter of time before these ticks make their way from animals to humans. And when they do, they may start carrying the deadly virus they carry in other parts of the world.

How to avoid all bloodsuckers

Here’s the good news…you avoid the Asian longhorned tick the same way you avoid all the other dangerous ticks. So, you don’t have to do anything different. Just:

  • Stay away from tick-infested areas whenever possible. That includes grassy, brushy and woody areas.
  • Wear clothing that covers your skin in tick-prone areas. That way, even if you come into contact with a tick, it won’t get a chance to sink it’s teeth into you. Make sure your clothing is light-colored too. You’re much more likely to spot a tick on a white shirt than a black one.
  • Check yourself for ticks frequently… like whenever you spend time outdoors. Make a habit of checking your head and body for ticks as soon as you come inside. If you find and remove ticks soon enough, they won’t have a chance to pass along any diseases. Taking a shower immediately after outdoor time helps too.
  • Try natural tick repellants. If you’re not into DEET-based products, you can make an effective natural tick repellant at home with vodka, witch hazel, water and a few essential oils (lemon eucalyptus, rose geranium and citronella). Here are more detailed instructions on how to make it. As a bonus, this repellant will keep those other disease-carrying blood suckers — mosquitos — away too.


  1. New tick species spreading in the US — MedicalXpress.
  2. An Invasive New Tick Is Spreading in the U.S.The New York Times.
  3. Geographic distribution of ticks that bite humans — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Preventing Tick Bites — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.