T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Tick (Cattle) Haemaphysalis longicornis

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Subclass: Acari
Order: Ixodida
Family: Ixodidae
Genus: Haemaphysalis
Species: H. longicornis
Binomial name: Haemaphysalis longicornis
Common name: Cattle tick, Scrub tick, Bush tick

Haemaphysalis longicornis is a species of tick whose geographic distribution is restricted to the more temperate areas of the world.
H. longicornis was thought to be introduced to New Zealand in the late 19th century. It first became established in north Auckland. It is is believed to have been first introduced to Australia on cattle from northern Japan in the nineteenth century and from there it has spread to New Zealand. H. longicornis is now widespread and has been reported throughout the North Island and at the top of the South Island (Canterbury and Westcoast). With the transport of cattle that now regularly occurs though out New Zealand there is a possibility that it has spread further south.

H. longicornis principal host is cattle. In New Zealand this tick has been reported on man, horse, donkey, sheep, goat, deer, hare, dog, cat, hedgehog, ship rat, Norway rat, house mouse, ferret, stoat, weasel and the brushtail possum and birds (thrush, skylark, house sparrow, domestic chicken, domestic duck, turkey, pheasant, mallard duck, brown kiwi, banded rail).

Life Cycle - largely ex Heath (1981; 1998)
Female ticks lay their eggs are laid in late spring and early summer and hatch in 60-90 days, depending on temperature and humidity. Larvae climb vegetation and wait for a suitable host. Within an hour of transferring to a host, the larva attaches itself to the skin and remains there for five days. The larva increases markedly in size only during the 24 hours prior to detachment.
Fully engorged, the larva detaches from the host, drops to the ground, finds a moist dark place such as a crevice, under a leaf or in the root mat of grass or rushes. There it enters the premoult phase which can last up to 30 days depending on temperature and humidity (Heath 1998).
After moulting into a nymph and being fully "hardened off', the tick climbs vegetation again in search of a host on which it feeds for seven days, then detaches and shelters for 40 days before moulting into an adult. The adult female then seeks a host, feeding for seven days or longer and searches out a suitable place to lay her eggs after detaching from the host. When fully engorged the adult female expands to about 9mm long by 7mm wide. After 1-2 weeks the female starts laying, producing up to 2000 eggs over a 2-3 week period. She often survives a further two weeks after laying (Heath 1998).

Haemaphysalis longicornis is able to transmit the bovine protozoal pathogens Theileria orientalis, Theileria buffali, Theileria sergenti, Babesia ovata, Babesia bigemina and Babesia major, all which that affects cattle. It also can transmit the protozoan Babesia gibsoni that effects cats and dogs.

An adult Haemaphysalis longicornis.