Haemaphysalis longicornis nymph (figure adapted from Hoogstraal et al. (1968)) (click on thumbnail for larger image).

Haemaphysalis longicornis larva (figure adapted from Hoogstraal et al. (1968)) (click on thumbnail for larger image).

Haemaphysalis longicornis male (figure adapted from Hoogstraal et al. (1968)) (click on thumbnail for larger image).

Haemaphysalis longicornis female (figure adapted from Hoogstraal et al. (1968))(click on thumbnail for larger image).

Species name

Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann, 1901

Common name

Bush tick
Cattle tick
New Zealand cattle tick

Naming history

Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann, 1901 (accepted name)

Synonyms and misapplied names:
Haemaphysalis bispinosa Rageau & Vervent, 1959 (misapplied name)
Haemaphysalis bispinosa neumanni Pospelova-Shtrom, 1940 (synonym)
Haemaphysalis concinna longicornis Neumann, 1905 (synonym)
Haemaphysalis neumanni Dönitz, 1905 (synonym)
Haemaphysalis neumanni bispinosa Abramov & Laptev, 1966 (synonym)
Haemaphysalis (Kaiseriana) longicornis Hoogstraal et al ., 1968 (synonym)
Haemaphysalis (Kaiseriana) neumanni Hoogstraal & Trapido, 1966 (synonym)


Haemaphysalis longicornis is known to feed on a wide range of mammals and birds.  In New Zealand this species has been recorded as feeding on the following animals;


Description of larva

From Hoogstraal et al. (1968).


Description of nymph

From Hoogstraal et al. (1968).

Description of female

From Hoogstraal et al. (1968).

The female differs from the male in secondary sexual characteristics but is similar to it in diagnostic details.

Description of male

From Hoogstraal et al. (1968).

Disease relationships

In New Zealand  H. longicornis transmits little in the way of disease with the only exception being the relatively benign Theileria orientalis.  However, H. longicornis can vector piroplasmorina, such as; Babesia major, B. bigemina, B. ovata, B. gibsoni, Rickettsia japonica, Coxiella burneti and T. mutans as well as the viruses that cause; Russian spring-summer encephalitis and Powassan encephalitis, there are also suggestions that Haemaphysalid ticks such as H. longicornis in both Japan and China carry Borrelia spp.*

*This list is not intended to be exhaustive.



Haemaphysalis longicornis probably reached New Zealand via Japan and Australia. It is most common on the North Auckland peninsula and on the east coast of the North Island as far south as Hastings. On the west coast of the North Island it occurs as far south as Waikanae. It has been recorded in the central North Island around Taupo, National Park, and Taumarunui, and in the Golden Bay area of the South Island.

This tick species also occurs in Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and West Australia), China (Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Tibet),Fiji, Japan, Korean Peninsula, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Russia (southern Primorsky Kray), Tonga and Western Samoa.


Status in New Zealand


Comments, identifying features and similar species

Haemaphysalis longicornis is a is a three host tick that reproduces by parthenogenesis throughout much of its range.  In New Zealand female H. longicornis lay eggs in late spring and early summer.  These eggs hatch in about 60-90 days, depending on temperature and humidity. The emergent larvae climb up vegetation, where they wait for a suitable host to pass nearby; they are attracted by a combination of its body warmth and exhaled carbon dioxide. Within an hour of transferring to a host animal the larva attaches itself to the skin by its mouthparts and remains so for up to 5 days, markedly increasing in size only during the 24 hours preceding detachment. When fully engorged with blood the larva drops to the ground, finds a dark, moist hiding place, and enters a premoult phase which can last up to 30 days depending again on temperature and humidity. Hiding places for this phase include crevices, under leaves, or in the root mat of grasses and rushes.

The larva then moults into the second or nymphal stage . The unfed ticks are often found in the same places as the fully engorged stages. When fully 'hardened off' (physiologically ready) the nymph climbs rush or grass stems and seeks a host. The nymph feeds for up to 7 days on the host, detaches when fully engorged, and spends about 40 days sheltering under vegetation before moulting into the third or adult stage. The female tick now seeks a host, feeds for 7 days or longer, depending on temperature, and after detaching from the host seeks a suitable site to lay its eggs. After 1-2 weeks it commences laying, and may produce up to 2000 eggs over a 2-3-week period. The female will often survive for a further 2 or 3 weeks after egg-laying.

The seasonal pattern of activity of this tick can vary from year to year, depending on climate (see life cycle diagram). In northern areas of New Zealand that are warm, moist and have mild winters, at least two generations occur each year, and larvae can be found in quite large numbers in early spring as well as in summer and autumn. In addition, adults and nymphs can be found on host animals at almost any time of the year except mid winter. In contrast, in temperate areas with more severe winters, the life stages are very clear-cut and only one generation occurs each year; livestock are free of ticks during the latter part of autumn, all winter, and early spring. All unfed stages of the tick may overwinter, but nymphs most commonly do so.


Similar species
Currently (2009) H. logicornis is the only memebr of the genus Haemaphysalis that occurs in New Zealand.  It is therefore easily recognised by the anal groove embracing the anus posteriorly, the presence of festoons and the palps that have there second segment being extended laterally.  However, should there be any suspusion over the identity of a specimen it should be compared with the characteristics and images outlined in the sections above.

Useful references

Barker SC & Murrell A  2004.  Systematics and evolution of ticks with a list of valid genus and species names.  Parasitology, 129: S15-S36.


Bishop DM. & Heath ACG 1998. Checklist of ectoparasites of birds in New Zealand. Surveillance. Special Issue: Parasites of Birds in New Zealand. 25: 13-31.


Camicas JL, Hervy JP, Adam F & Morel PC 1998.  Les Tiques de Monde.  Nomenclature, stades decrits, hotes, repartition.  The ticks of the world.  Nomenclature, described stages, hosts, distribution (Acarida, Ixodida). France , Orstom Editions.


Dumbleton LJ 1963. A synopsis of the ticks (Acarina: Ixodoidea) of New Zealand. Tuatara 11: 72-78.


Heath ACG 1987. A review of the origins and zoogeography of tick-borne disease in New Zealand. Tuatara 29: 19-29.


Heath ACG 2002. Vector competence of Haemaphysalis longicornis with particular reference to blood parasites. Surveillance, 29: 12-14.


Hoogstraal H, Roberts FHS, Kohls GM & Tipton VJ 1968. Review of Haemaphysalis (Kaiseriana) longicornis Neumann (resurrected) of Australia New Zealand New Caledonia Fiji Japan Korea and Northeastern China and USSR and Its parthenogenetic and bisexual populations (Ixodoidea Ixodidae). Journal of Parasitology, 54: 1197-1213.


Horack IG, Camicas J-L & Kierans, JE 2002. The Argasidae, Ixodidae and Nuttalliellidae (Acari: Ixodida): a world list of valid tick names.  Experimental and Applied Acarology, 28: 27-54.


McKenna, P.B. (1996) The tick fauna of New Zealand. Surveillance, 23: 27.


Roberts FHS 1970 Australian ticks. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne, 267pp.