RALEIGH, N.C. — On Monday, the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services posted a press release about the deaths of five cows in Surry County being linked to the asian longhorned tick. As the name implies, this tick is an invasive species from east Asia which was first reported on sheep in New Jersey in 2017. The first specimen found in North Carolina was from an opossum in Polk county in July 2018. Specimens were subsequently found in Rutherford and Davidson counties that same year.
As with many of our pest problems reported on the internet, they often trigger panic is citizens when we need to use common sense. First, protect your pets with a product that works against both fleas and ticks. Consult your veterinarian for advice on what to use not just bases on how effective the product is but also on your pets overall health as well. Second, don’t overdue it. I’ve had people call me for advice on tick control and they’ve already used a combination flea & tick shampoo, applied a pesticide to the pet and also used a tick collar and have done this more than once in the course of the year. To put it bluntly, that’s a good way to fix the tick problem by potentially killing your pet As with pesticides we use in and around our homes, these flea and tick products should not cause problems for your pet when used according to their label instructions. That doesn’t mean they should be all at one time because, depending on the types of products used, the combination of them can irreversibly affect the pet’s nervous system, its liver or other bodily systems.
Third – if you want to treat your yard, the key is spray volume. That doesn’t mean more chemical; it means using the amount listed on the label but applied with enough water to disperse over the soil and vegetation. So, use a garden hose sprayer and preferably treat after *mild* rainfall which will help the chemical absorb into the soil. Before you spray, it’s a good idea to trim the grass and weedy areas.
Fourth – Personal protection. If you’re going to work in your yard or go hiking on trails, apply repellent to your shoes, socks and pants and *bare* legs (never apply repellent to skin that will be covered by clothing). When you’re finished with outdoor activities, do a “tick check” for unwanted hitch-hikers on your skin or clothing. If you go hiking, try to stay on clear trails whenever possible.
Lastly, NCDHHS is conducting a tick survey through veterinarians (not the general public at this point). Interested vets can contact email Dr. Alexis M. Barbarin at NCTickID@dhhs.nc.gov. More information about ticks is available at: Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases Ticks Longhorned Tick
–Michael Waldvogel, N.C. State University