Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The influence of southwestern Virginia environmental conditions on the potential ability of Haemaphysalis longicornis, Amblyomma americanum, and Amblyomma maculatum to overwinter in the region.

Abstract

Ticks are susceptible to environmental conditions and, to ensure survival during winter conditions, they adopt a wide variety of physiological and behavioral adaptations including utilization of a suitable niche with insulation (e.g., leaf coverage). To investigate the potential overwintering survival of three tick populations emerging within Appalachian Virginia (Haemaphysalis longicornis, Amblyomma americanum, and Amblyomma maculatum), both a laboratory experiment assessing super-cooling points and a two-factor (elevation and insulation coverage) field experiment assessing overwintering survivability were conducted across a natural southwestern Virginian winter (2020-2021). Dermacentor variabilis adults were included in this study as an example of a well-established species in this region known to overwinter in these conditions. Our study indicated that A. americanum and H. longicornis wintering tolerance is based on life stage rather than external factors such as insulation (e.g., leaf litter) and elevation. Amblyomma maculatum was more likely to survive without insulation. The ability to withstand the extreme temperatures of new regions is a key factor determining the survivability of novel tick species and is useful in assessing the invasion potential of arthropod vectors.