Entomologist Mat Pound and agricultural engineer Allen
Miller, at ARS's Knipling-Bushland
U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory, Kerrville, Texas, are well
known for their research to control ticks on white-tailed deer and other
wild ungulates. They have developed several control methods including
medicated bait, the 4-poster topical applicator, injectable medicated
microspheres, an automatic collaring device, and a safe and efficient
deer capture and handling system. These technologies offer potential
solutions to the problem of treating deer to rid them of blacklegged
ticks and lone star ticks, which transmit agents causing Lyme disease,
human ehrlichioses, human babesiosis, and several other diseases.
Pound and Miller recently made a trip to Scotland to meet
with Adam Smith, senior scientist at Scottish Upland Research in Newtonmore.
That research agency serves as the scientific wing of the Game Conservancy
Trust (GCT) in central Scotland. The two ARS scientists were invited
to give presentations on their work to the Tick Working Group of the
GCT and to a general meeting of 75 members of the trust. Those attending
were mainly landholders and gamekeepers of large estatesincluding
the Prince of Wales and the Marquis of Lansdownewho have deep
interests in wildlife conservation.
Disease-carrying ticks have become an increasing problem
on large estates, where red deer populations are thriving. Ticks are
brought into the areas on deer. Then, the ticks feed on mountain hares
and become infected with a virus. Later, if they feed on chicks of the
Scottish red grouse, they transmit the deadly virus to the young birds.
Red grouse is the most popular game bird in Scotland, where hunting
on the large estates is both a cherished sport and of great economic
Now the tick may be about to meet its match. At least
that is what Pound and Miller hope to accomplish through collaborative
efforts with GCT scientists. The two ARS researchers want to see whether
the medicated corn, 4-poster, or other technologies can be adapted to
the Scottish environment to control the ticks and save red grouse populations.
In the spring of 2003, the Scottish scientists trapped
and treated adult red grouse with medicated leg bands in hopes that
the treatment would prevent ticks from biting newly hatched nestlings.
In August, some estates were holding their first red grouse drives in
several years to see whether the populations had increased. Scottish
observers anticipate increased numbers of grouse this year. But it's
premature to claim success until quantitative data are available.By
Flores, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
J. Mat Pound
and J. Allen Miller are
in the USDA-ARS Livestock
Insects Research Unit, Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insect Research
Laboratory, 2700 Fredericksburg Rd., Kerrville, TX 78028; phone (830)
257-3566, fax (830) 792-0337.
"Tick-Control Methods Head to Scotland" was published
in the April
2004 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.