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ARS Home » Plains Area » Kerrville, Texas » Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory » LAPRU » Research » Research Project #428021

Research Project: Cattle Fever Tick Control and Eradication

Location: Livestock Arthropod Pests Research

2017 Annual Report

Objective 1: Reduce the cost of pasture quarantine by developing new methods of treating cattle for cattle fever ticks. Subobjective 1A: Evaluate the efficacy of novel long-acting (LA) acaricides for CFT control. Subobjective 1B: Detect tick infestation by non-invasive procedures. Objective 2: Evaluate efficacy of novel technologies for control of cattle fever ticks and mitigation of acaricide resistance. Subobjective 2A: Evaluate natural products with acaricidal properties for tick control. Subobjective 2B: Evaluate natural products with repellent or attractant properties for tick control. Objective 3: Develop methods that decrease the impact of wildlife as reservoirs of cattle fever ticks. Subobjective 3A: Evaluate efficacy of anti-tick vaccine formulations for control of ticks on wildlife. Objective 4: Improve species distribution and ecological niche models of cattle fever tick species and specify changes likely to occur due to climate change. Subobjective 4A: Update and mine the historical CFT GIS database to produce maps and tools to support APHIS eradication efforts. Subobjective 4B: Assess effect of climate change predictions on recurring cycles of CFT outbreak activity. Objective 5: Develop biological control agents against the pathogenic landscape created by Arundo donax and measure impact on invasive ticks. Subobjective 5A. Investigate the biology and host range of the arundo leafminer under quarantine conditions as a candidate biological control agent for release in the CFT PQZ. Subobjective 5B. Determine if biological control agents mitigate negative impact of Arundo donax on operations by the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program by increasing visibility within the PQZ. Subobjective 5C. Investigate other benefits of biological control intervention, including decreased habitat suitable for CFT larvae, and use these measurements to predict effects of climate change. Objective 6: Innovate technologies to mitigate the negative impact of ecological interactions between invasive species. Subobjective 6A. Investigate role of ants and ground-dwelling predator beetles on the survival of CFT and biological control agents in the PQZ affected by A. donax. Objective 7: Develop biological control against livestock pests. Subobjective 7A. Conduct foreign exploration in the native ranges of CFT to search for tick-specific biological control agents. Objective 8: Assess the effects of global climate change on effectiveness of livestock pest control in south Texas and northern Mexico. Subobjective 8A. Investigate the potential for climate change to alter the viability of CFT larvae in the PQZ.

Utilize our unique laboratory resources and infrastructure to evaluate new formulations of compounds for long-acting efficacy against strains of cattle fever ticks that are susceptible or resistant to commercially available acaricidal products. This effort will help prioritize efforts with stakeholder groups to deliver products the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program can use in the Permanent Quarantine Zone. Assess utility of non-invasive procedures, like near-infrared spectroscopy of livestock fecal samples, to detect cattle fever tick infestations. Finding non-invasive alternatives to hands-on inspection (scratching) offer the potential to streamline operations and enhance detection of infestations by Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program personnel. Screen plant-derived substances to identify novel compounds that are active against cattle fever ticks. Research on natural products will enable the discovery of molecules that could be optimized for acaricidal efficacy. Determine immunogenicity in white-tailed deer of novel Bm86-based vaccine developed to vaccinate cattle in the Permanent Quarantine Zone. Confirming that the novel Bm86-based vaccine developed for cattle can also elicit a specific immune response against cattle fever ticks in white-tailed deer will provide a tool that could be used to minimize the impact of wildlife as tick reservoirs. Refine methods applied to cattle fever tick outbreaks using remote sensing technologies and models predicting habitat suitability and species distribution. The improvement of those methods could be used to develop science-based predictive tools the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program could use to adapt future strategies. Overall, the approaches described above aim to deliver science-based tools that the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program can integrate to adapt operations, mitigate the impact of global change, and keep the U.S. free of cattle fever ticks in a sustainable manner. Develop biological control agents against giant reed including testing of the leaffeeding arundo leafminer, for release in the PQZ; determine if the leafminer, and two other agents which have already been released, can mitigate negative impact of giant reed on operations by the CFT Eradication Program by increasing visibility within the PQZ and investigate other benefits, including reduction of habitat suitable for cattle fever tick larvae; investigate the role of ants and ground-dwelling predator beetles on the survival of cattle fever tick in the PQZ in areas with and without giant reed; conduct foreign exploration in the native ranges of cattle fever tick to search for tick-specific parasitic insects and nematodes, and evaluate their potential as biological control agents to directly target cattle fever tick; assess the effects of global climate change on livestock pest control in south Texas by conducting field ecological studies in cattle fever tick infested pastures at the CFTRL; conduct field studies to investigate the effects of increased summer rainfall to determine its impact on exotic African range grasses and giant reed and their effect on cattle fever tick survival.

Progress Report
This research project on Cattle Fever Tick Control and Eradication resulted from the establishment in March 2017 of the Livestock Arthropod Pest Research Unit (LAPRU) at the Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory. LAPRU resulted from the consolidation of the former “Tick and Biting Fly” and “Screwworm” Research Units. Objective 1. Safer and faster ways to vaccinate bovines efficiently against cattle fever ticks are needed. For the first time worldwide, dairy cattle were vaccinated against cattle fever ticks using a needle-less device as part of our research project on integrated cattle fever tick management in Puerto Rico. Tests are underway to determine if the specific antibody response is equivalent between immunization by injection, or using the needle-less device. Objective 3. A preferred method to immunize white-tailed deer against cattle fever ticks involves a non-invasive delivery system that does not require wildlife immobilization. Bacteria were engineered genetically to be harmless in a way that they can be used for vaccination against cattle fever ticks without having to inject deer. Completion of the experimental permits is underway. Initial testing will be done in cattle to prove the scientific principle. Positive results in the preliminary tests will warrant testing in deer.

1. Integrated control of ticks. After 3 years, field research for integrated control of the southern cattle fever tick in Puerto Rico was completed by ARS researchers in Kerrville, Texas, and Edinburg, Texas. The combined use of safer acaricides and vaccination against the cattle fever tick prevented outbreaks of bovine babesiosis in dairy cattle herds. Dairy and beef cattle producers in Puerto Rico are interested in adopting integrated tick management practices based on these research outcomes.

2. Ecologic modeling. ARS researchers in Kerrville, Texas, and Edinburg, Texas, published research describing the development of a model to assess the effect of interactions between white-tailed deer, climate variation, and habitat diversity on the efficacy of methods used by the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program to eliminate tick outbreaks in south Texas. The model also considered the livestock-wildlife interface because in some areas cattle and deer share the ecosystem. Results of the model simulations identified aspects of the tick life cycle associated with infestations in deer that could be targeted to enhance prevention, and the management of cattle fever tick outbreaks in the U.S.

3. Nilgai lure. This effort was adapted to meet the need for research to develop methods to treat nilgai antelope against cattle fever tick infestations by ARS researchers in Edinburg, Texas. Nilgai is an exotic wildlife species originally from the Indian subcontinent that was introduced to south Texas, which is related to cattle. A lure could attract nilgai to sites for non-invasive treatment against cattle fever ticks. Research was published describing the results of field tests with experimental lures. Offal was the most attractive of the three lures tested. A way to attract nilgai to a specific location provides the opportunity to test non-invasive methods to control cattle fever tick infestations.

Review Publications
Leal, B., Thomas, D.B., Dearth, R. 2017. Cattle Fever Tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Acari: Ixodidae): potential control on pastures by the application of urea fertilizer. Veterinary Parasitology. 241:39-42.
Du, H., Chouvenc, T., Osbrink, W.L., Su, N. 2016. Social interactions in the central nest of Coptotermes formosanus juvenile colonies. Insectes Sociaux. 63:279-290.
Du, H., Chouvenc, T., Osbrink, W.L., Su, N. 2016. Heterogeneous distribution of castes/instars and behaviors in the nest of Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki. Insectes Sociaux. 64:103-112.
Ortega-Leon, G., Thomas, D.B. 2016. Pseudocromata, a new genus of Ochlerini based on a new species from Ecuador (Discocephalinae: Pentatomidae). Zootaxa. 4137:286-290.
Aboelhadid, S.M., Mahrous, L.N., Hashem, S.A., Abdel-Kafy, E.M., Miller, R. 2016. In vitro and in vivo effect of Citrus limon essential oil against sarcoptic mange in rabbits. Parasitology Research. 115:3013-3020.
Rodriguez-Vivas, R.I., Ojeda-Chi, M., Trinidad-Martinez, I., Perez De Leon, A.A. 2017. First documentation of ivermectin resistance in Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (Acari: Ixodidae). Veterinary Parasitology. 233:9-13.
Ziska, L., A. Crimmins, A. Auclair, S. DeGrasse, J.F. Garofalo, A.S. Khan, I. Loladze, A.A. Pérez de León, A. Showler, J. Thurston, and I. Walls, 2016: Ch. 7: Food Safety, Nutrition, and Distribution. In: Basu, R., English, P. et al., editors. The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. Washington, D.C.: Global Change Research Program. 189–216. doi:10.7930/J0ZP4417
Renthal, R., Maghnani, L., Bernal, S., Qu, Y., Griffith, W., Lohmeyer, K.H., Guerrero, F., Borges, L., Perez de Leon, A.A. 2016. The chemosensory appendage proteome of Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) reveals putative odorant-binding and other chemoreception-related proteins. Insect Science. 00:1-13.
Esteve-Gassent, M., Castro-Arellano, I., Feria-Arroyo, T., Patino, R., Li, A.Y., Medina, R., Perez De Leon, A.A., Rodriguez-Vivas, R. 2016. Translating ecology, physiology, biochemistry and population genetics research to meet the challenge of tick and tick-borne diseases in North America. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 92(1):38-64.
Thomas, D.B., Smith, A.A., Aalbu, R. 2015. Charles A. Triplehorn: an inordinate fondness for Darkling Beetles. The Coleopterists Bulletin. 14:1-10.
Duron, O., Binetruy, F., Noel, V., Cremaschi, K., Arnathau, C., Chevillon, C., Plantard, O., Goolsby, J., Perez De Leon, A.A., Heylen, D., Estrada-Pena, A. 2017. Evolutionary changes in symbiont community structure in ticks. Ecology Letters. 26(11):2905-2921.
Goolsby, J., Guerrero, F., Gaskin, J.F., Bendele, K.G., Azhahianambi, P., Amalin, D., Flores-Cruz, M., Kashefi, J., Smith, L., Saini, R.K., Racelis, A., Perez De Leon, A.A. 2016. Molecular comparison of cattle fever ticks from native and introduced ranges with insights into optimal search areas for classical biological control agents. Southwestern Entomologist. 41(3):595-604.
Overholt, W.A., Hidayat, P., Le Ru, B., Takasu, K., Goolsby, J., Racelis, A., Burrell, M., Amalin, D., Agum, W., Njaku, M., Pallangyo, B., Klein, P.E., Cuda, J. 2016. Potential biological control agents for management of cogongrass (Cyperales: Poaceae) in the southeastern USA. Florida Entomologist. 99(4):734-739.
Burrell, M., Pepper, A.E., Hodnet, G., Goolsby, J., Overholt, W., Racelis, A.E., Diaz, R., Klein, P. 2015. Exploring origins, invasion history and genetic diversity of Imperata cylindrica (L.) P. Beauv. (Cogongrass) in the United States using genotyping by sequencing. Molecular Ecology. 24:2177-2193.
Osbrink, W.L., Cornelius, M.L., Showler, A. 2015. Bionomics and formation of "Bonsai" colonies with long term rearing of Coptotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 109(2):770-778.
Scally, M., Into, F., Thomas, D.B., Ruiz-Arce, R., Barr, N., Schuenzel, E.L. 2016. Resolution of inter and intra-species relationships of the West Indian fruit fly Anastrepha obliqua. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 101:286-293.
Rodriguez-Vivas, R.I., Grisi, L., Perez De Leon, A.A., Silva Villela, H., Torres-Acosta, J.F., Sanchez, H.F., Romero Salas, D., Rosario Cruz, R., Saldierna, F., Garcia Carrasco, D. 2017. Potential economic impact assessment for cattle parasites in Mexico review. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Pecuarias. 8(1):61-74.
Ferreira, L.L., Oliveira Filho, J.G., Mascarin, G.M., Perez De Leon, A.A., Borges, L. 2017. In vitro repellency of DEET against the ticks Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato and Amblyomma sculptum. Veterinary Parasitology. 239:42-45.
Kakkar, G., Chouvenc, T., Osbrink, W.L., Su, N. 2016. Temporal assessment of molting in workers of Formosan subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 109:2175-2181.
Showler, A., Osbrink, W.L., Morris, J., Wargovich, M. 2017. Effects of two commercial neem-based insecticides on lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae): deterrence, mortality, and reproduction. Biopesticides International. 13:1-12.
Osbrink, W.L., Goolsby, J., Thomas, D.B., Mejorado, A.B., Showler, A., Perez De Leon, A.A. 2017. Higher ant diversity in native vegetation than in stands of the invasive arundo, Arundo donax L., along the Rio Grande basin in Texas, U.S.A.. International Journal of Insect Science. 9:1-9.