Community Sustains Control of Disease-Causing
By Rosalie Marion
March 23, 2009
Spring is finally here, and with it
comes tick season. Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientists are reporting the latest in a series of related
studies on the effectiveness of an ARS technology that reduces tick
The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, in its nymphal stage, is the
main vector of the pathogen that causes Lyme disease. The lone star tick,
Amblyomma americanum, is a vector of the pathogen that causes human
monocytic ehrlichiosis. Both diseases are serious human health problems in
large areas of the United States, including Maryland.
A patented and environmentally friendly device called the
"4-Poster" Deer Treatment Bait Station was developed by ARS
researchers at the
U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory in Kerrville, Texas, including
Mathews Pound and
As part of the USDA Northeast Areawide Tick Control Project, ARS
Carroll with the
Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., led a study in which the
4-Poster technology was applied to reduce populations of these deer-associated
Tick counts on Gibson Island, Md., showed that the treatment annually
achieved at least 77 percent control of both tick species, compared to
pretreatment years. Gibson Island is a private, resident-owned community that
purchased 15 4-Poster devices and operated them during the last five years of
the 9-year study. Significant control continued in spite of increased deer
density and the use of 40 percent fewer 4-Poster devices after the first four
years of the study.
The device consists of four paint rollers that have been impregnated with
acaricide, or tick killer. The vertically placed paint rollers flank each
corner of a bin containing corn bait. The animal picks up a small but
sufficient amount of acaricide that kills ticks when its head, neck and ears
rub against the rollers.
The study showed that a community-operated 4-Poster program, when used
according to guidelines, can effectively keep tick populations at low levels,
according to the researchers.
The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Vector-Borne and
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.