It's December in Minnesota, which means millions of people are hunkering down for a cold, snowy winter and will soon be longing for green grass, warm sunshine, baseball, grilling and the inevitable mosquitos and bugs that arrive with spring and summer.
But take heed, Minnesotans, there's a new invasive anthropod in the United States, and insect specialists are concerned that it could spread to Minnesota. .
Introducing, for the first time in the U.S., the Asian longhorned tick, and it's just as anxious as you are for warmer weather, because that's when it can jump onto humans and animals and begin spreading diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, this tick species is an incredibly efficient, asexual creature, laying up to 2,000 eggs at a time. The CDC adds that "hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or in the environment."
Signing up for a swim through swamp water filled with gators and snakes sounds more appealing than dealing with hundreds to THOUSANDS of ticks your body.
So far, the tick has been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
It's a serious issue, but as University of Minnesota Extension Entomologist Jeff Hahn notes, the Asian longhorned tick has yet to carry any disease in the U.S. and has not been reported in Minnesota. Yet.
"Fortunately, this invasive tick has not been found in Minnesota so far, although entomologists and health specialists here are very concerned and are alerted for its presence," writes Hahn.
So, who's ready for spring?!