POLK CO., N.C. (WSPA) – Officials say a new species of tick has made its way to western North Carolina.
The Longhorned tick was recently found on a possum in Polk County, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The find was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
State officials say the tick was not usually found in the U.S. until last fall.
It’s unknown exactly how the tick – native to East Asia – reached the U.S.
Others have been found in Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey.
“The good news is that the Longhorned ticks respond to insecticides used to control other common species of ticks on pets and livestock,” N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a news release.
Officials warn it’s a serious pest and an “aggressive biter” that could carry diseases. Female longhorned ticks can reproduce without a male. So, one female can “create a population in a new location,” according to the USDA.
Adults are dark brown and about the size of a pea when full of blood. But the tick can be smaller than a poppy seed at other stages.
Officials are concerned about possible impacts on livestock.
“These ticks frequently form large infestations on warm-blooded host animals. This causes great stress on the animal, reducing its growth and production. A severe infestation can kill the animal due to blood loss,” according to the USDA.
Experts say prevention is the best way to prevent illnesses caused by ticks.
People are urged to use tick treatments on pets and livestock.
If heading outdoors, you’re encouraged to wear long clothing, use EPA approved repellents and shower immediately after returning home and checking for ticks.
This video shows the proper way to remove a tick: