F Rosa Rubicondior: Malevolent Design - Another Dangerous Tick That Can Kill Cattle Is Spreading Fast

Saturday 4 November 2023

Malevolent Design - Another Dangerous Tick That Can Kill Cattle Is Spreading Fast

Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, (ventral view)
Photo: Risa Pesapane
An exotic tick that can kill cattle is spreading across Ohio

In what creationists should see as a triumph for their favourite sadist if they were true to their professed belief and weren't selective in its application, the Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis which they believe it designed, which feeds by sucking the blood of its victims and which was first detected in the USA in 2017 and in Ohio in 2021, is now present in such vast numbers that it is believed to have killed three cattle in southeastern Ohio, simply through blood loss.

One of the cattle was a healthy, 5-year-old bull. It would have taken about 10,000 ticks to kill it by exsanguination. that number of ticks were recovered in 90 minutes on one Ohio farm alone.

Ticks, like other parasites, if we accept the intelligent [sic] design argument for a moment, can only be ascribed to the work of a pestilential malevolence because creationists also insist that the putative designer is omnipotent and omniscience, therefore it knows exactly what its designs will do, and designs them to do exactly that.

And ticks appear to be designed to do only two things:
  1. Produce more ticks.
  2. Act as vectors for disease-causing organisms, in this case Anaplasma phagocytophilium and Theileria orientalis.
And, in a brilliant piece of malevolence, what gives these nasties their great power to spread and colonise new territories in vast numbers, all the adults are females that breed parthenogenically. In favourable conditions a newly-hatched tick can reach sexual maturity in a few weeks to a few months. Each female can lay up to 2,000 eggs which, if they all hatch and breed, will produce 4 million breeding ticks in two generations and 8 billion ticks in three, in favourable conditions.

As an introduced species in the USA, the Asian longhorned tick has few natural predators that can keep their numbers in check. In parts of their native range in Asia, guinea fowl are used to keep them in check, but the breeding rate of the tick is so high that natural predation has negligible impact on their numbers. This fantastic rate of reproduction means that a single female colonising a fresh territory can, if the conditions are right, produce tens of trillions of offspring within a year or two.
What information do you have about the Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis? The Asian longhorned tick, scientifically known as Haemaphysalis longicornis, is a species of tick native to East Asia, including countries like China, Japan, Korea, and Russia. It has gained attention due to its ability to rapidly reproduce and potentially transmit diseases to both livestock and humans. Here are some key points about the Asian longhorned tick:
  1. Identification: The Asian longhorned tick is named for its long mouthparts or "longhorned" appearance. It is a small tick, about the size of a sesame seed, and is brown in color. It has distinctive long mouthparts or capitulum, which are similar in length to its body.
  2. Geographic Distribution: This tick species has been found in various countries across East Asia and has also been reported in other parts of the world, including the United States, Australia, and several countries in Europe. Its rapid spread to new regions is a cause for concern.
  3. Reproduction: One of the most concerning aspects of this tick is its ability to reproduce asexually, a process called parthenogenesis. This means that a single female tick can reproduce and lay eggs without the need for a male, potentially leading to rapid population growth.
  4. Disease Vector: The Asian longhorned tick is known to be a vector for various diseases. In Asia, it has been implicated in the transmission of diseases such as severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) virus and theileriosis. The risk of disease transmission to humans and livestock in areas where this tick is established is a significant concern.
  5. Livestock Impact: Livestock, including cattle, sheep, and other domesticated animals, can be heavily infested by these ticks. Infestations can lead to reduced productivity and health problems in affected animals, making them a concern for the agriculture and livestock industries.
  6. Human Health Concerns: While the Asian longhorned tick has been known to bite humans, its role in disease transmission to humans is not yet fully understood. Research is ongoing to determine the extent of the risk it poses to human health.
  7. Control and Prevention: Controlling the spread of the Asian longhorned tick involves measures such as tick monitoring, livestock management practices, and the use of acaricides (tick-killing chemicals). Public health and veterinary authorities are working to better understand and mitigate the risks associated with this tick.
Due to its rapid spread and potential to impact both livestock and human health, the Asian longhorned tick is a subject of ongoing research and concern among public health and agriculture agencies in affected regions. It is essential to take preventive measures and conduct surveillance to monitor its presence and impact in various parts of the world.

Is the species entirely female, or are males known?

The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) is a species that primarily reproduces through parthenogenesis, which means that it consists mostly of females that can reproduce without mating with males. In populations of this tick species, males are rarely found. The females can lay eggs that develop into new ticks without the need for fertilization by males.

Males of the Asian longhorned tick are extremely rare, and in some populations, they may be altogether absent. The exact reasons for the scarcity of males in this species are not entirely understood, but it is a notable characteristic of the Asian longhorned tick's reproductive biology. This unusual mode of reproduction, along with its ability to reproduce rapidly, contributes to the potential for population explosions and increased risk of disease transmission.

How long does it take a newly-hatched tick to reach breeding age?

The time it takes for a newly-hatched tick to reach breeding age can vary depending on the species of tick and environmental conditions. In the case of the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), this species typically goes through four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The nymph stage is the third stage in their life cycle, and it is during the adult stage that they are capable of breeding.

The nymph stage typically lasts for several weeks to several months, with the exact duration depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and food availability. Under optimal conditions, it may take a few months for a nymph to mature into an adult tick. However, in less favorable conditions, this process can be delayed.

Once a nymph matures into an adult tick, it can then mate and lay eggs, starting the cycle over again. The specific timeline for reaching breeding age can vary between individual ticks and populations, and it is influenced by the local environment. It's important to note that different tick species may have variations in their life cycles and development times, so the timing can differ for other tick species.

Do Asian longhorned tick have any natural predators?

The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) does have some natural predators, but they may not be sufficient to keep its populations in check, particularly in regions where it has been introduced and lacks its natural predators. Natural predators of ticks can include various animals, such as birds, amphibians, reptiles, and some arachnids.
  1. Birds: Certain bird species, such as guinea fowl, chickens, and wild birds, are known to consume ticks, including the Asian longhorned tick. For example, guinea fowl are often used in some regions for tick control in agriculture because of their tick-feeding behavior.
  2. Amphibians and Reptiles: Some amphibians and reptiles may feed on ticks as part of their diet. For example, certain species of lizards and frogs may consume ticks when they encounter them.
  3. Other Arachnids: Predatory arachnids, such as spiders, can also prey on ticks, including the Asian longhorned tick. Spiders are natural predators of many arthropods and can help control tick populations to some extent.
It's important to note that while these natural predators can help keep tick populations in check in their native ecosystems, the Asian longhorned tick has become a concern in regions where it has been introduced and lacks its native predators. In such cases, the tick may experience population growth without effective natural control mechanisms. This is one of the factors contributing to its invasive potential and the need for management and control efforts in areas where it is not native.
The problem is the subject of a research paper published last August in The Journal of Entomology, sadly behind a paywall:

We describe the first known established Asian longhorned tick (ALT) (Acari: Ixodidae: Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann) population in Ohio, USA. In mid-summer 2021, we collected ALTs from an infested pasture in response to an alert that grazing cattle had been infested with ticks, and 3 of them had died. No ALTs were reported following pesticide treatment of the pasture in fall 2021. In the laboratory, we identified 9,287 ticks to species, representing all 3 life stages, as ALTs and tested 100 of the adult females for infectious agents relevant to human and animal health, including Theileria orientalis, a cattle disease agent. Eight field-collected ticks were positive for Anaplasma phagocytophilum (n = 100, 8%); no other infectious agents were detected. Active environmental surveillance showed the return of ALTs in June 2022 despite the tick control efforts in 2021. As ALTs continue to expand their range in the United States, active and passive surveillance studies will be needed to characterize their evolving role in human and animal health.

Andreas Eleftheriou, Julia Beckett, Ningzhu Bai, Risa Pesapane, An established population of Asian longhorned ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in Ohio, USA,
Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 60, Issue 5, September 2023, Pages 1126–1130, https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjad104

© 2023 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America.
Reprinted under the terms of s60 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
As usual, it will be amusing to watch creationists try to cope with the cognitive dissonance caused by their need to believe that their putative designer is an all-loving god who wants the best for its creation, with the observable fact of nasty parasites that, if they are designed, have obviously been designed to increase the amount of suffering in the world.

Of course, evolution can easily explain these things as the result of a mindless natural process in which the idea of suffering and happiness play no part, but creationists are not permitted that explanation as a condition of membership of their wackadoodle cult.

Thank you for sharing!

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1 comment :

  1. Creationists are delusional and are unable to think straight and unable to see straight. When it comes to God and religion and when it comes to the Bible religious folks seem to discard their intellect, reasoning, logic, common sense, and reality. Even otherwise intelligent and educated people continue to believe in the nonsense of their religion.
    Ticks have tormented animals since the Cretaceous period when Dinosaurs ruled, long before Adam and Eve ate a forbidden apple. Creationists cannot blame Adam and Eve why these noxious horrible organisms exist for the simple reason that ticks existed many many millions of years before humans. Ticks are prolific breeders and resilient. It seems the creator made them for the sole purpose of torturing and killing animals and humans. When hominids and humans came along we became an additional menu in their diet. Hominids and humans became additional victims.
    I can no longer enjoy hiking in parks as I once did because Ticks and mosquitoes are rampant for much of the year. Ticks can live in our gardens. Not even our gardens are safe. They especially like hanging out in trees, tall grasses, and bushes waiting for a passing animal or passing human to come by. I have had 2 tick bites and have had several close calls. In one instance some 100 Ticks crawled on my pants when I visited a brushy, tall grassy section of a park. I dont go to that section of the park. It took 2 hours to pry all of them off me. It's recommended to wear long sleeves and to be alert. It's important to get them off the skin before they sink their mouthwatering. Once they sink their mouth parts in the skin it might require professional help or a doctor to remove them and it might have injected a disease.
    I have seen pictures of Ticks covering warm blooded animals. Dogs, cats, deer, and cattle are frequent victims and the misery they cause from blood loss can plainly be seen.
    The famous female lion Elsa from Born Free fame died from a tick bite in Kenya in 1961. She was only 5 years old. This is equatorial Africa which is super dangerous. Elsa had to contend with wild lions, hyenas, crocodiles, venomous snakes, pythons, scorpions, venomous spiders, centipedes, mosquitoes, these flies, hippos, rhinos, buffaloes, elephants. She was like a big friendly dog and was loved by Joy and George Adamson. Incidentally both Joy and George were victims of malaria. Both survived it but both were later murdered by humans. Joy especially was deeply crushed by the loss of Elsa. See the book and move Born Free by Joy Adamson. Nature is cruel, pitiless, merciless, heartless, amoral as is the creator. It's up to us humans to be moral, kind, caring, merciful, and altruistic.


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