Answer to Parasite Case of the Week 679: Haemaphysalis sp.
Congratulations to Blaine Mathison, Khaled Itani, Olugbenga Samuel Babatunde, Souti Prasad Sarkhel, Robyn Nadolny, Marc Couturier, @TickReport, and Alvaro Faccini-Martinez for the correct identification!
It can be tricky to differentiate Haemaphysalis from from Rhipicephalus, so I created the following pictorial guide to help illustrate the key features.
In the end, it all comes down to a difference of angles - in Haemaphysalis, the outward facing angle is from the palps, whereas with Rhipicephalus, it's from the basis capituli. Both of these ticks also have festoons and their mouthparts are as long as the basis capituli, so they otherwise have a very similar appearance.
As Blaine points out, there are several members of this genus that are found in the United States, including the newly-invasive H. longicornis, or Asian longhorned tick. There arent' enough features shown in this case to get to the species level, but if you ever have a specimen in your laboratory, you can use this recently published KEY for assistance. Also, if you'd like to learn more about H. longicornis, the CDC has a brief overview HERE. The USDA also has a great site on H. longicornis that includes a regularly-updated map of the tick's distribution throughout the United States.
Thanks again to Florida Fan for donating this case!