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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #430798

Research Project: Risk Assessment and Evaluation of IPM for Tick Control on School Grounds

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32000-008-14-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Mar 1, 2016
End Date: Feb 28, 2018

The objectives of the proposed are to (1) develop a survey to identify perceived tick risk at schools in the Mid-Atlantic States; (2) assess population density and infection status of tick species on school grounds in Maryland; and (3) determine the effectiveness of integrated tick control measures (4-poster deer feeder and rodent bait box) for at-risk schools with extended perimeters bordering forested habitat.

A survey will be conducted to determine the perceived risks of tick bites at schools in the Mid-Atlantic states (Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey). The survey will be designed to collect information on perceived risk for exposure to Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens on school property to get an understanding of rural and urban attitudes toward tick risk in endemic areas. Questions will be aimed at school administration, specifically environmental services managers. Questions will be asked addressing views on risk on school properties, knowledge of control methods and integrated strategies for tick control, access to control methods or guidelines, restrictions to tick management, and realized risk (confirmed tick bites or complaints on school property). Six comparable schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland with significant wooded perimeter will be evaluated. Each property will be divided into sampling plots including both in the wooded perimeter and the school grounds. Tick collection will be conducted by sweeping. Ten sweeping efforts will occur at 10 m intervals in each sampling area for a total of 100 m per sampling plot bi-weekly or monthly, corresponding to nymph abundance, throughout the study. ARS expects to find nymphal and adult A. americanum and I. scapularis on all properties. Daily mean temperatures and humidity values will be recorded, as well as tick collection location, species, and life stage. Collected ticks will be preserved in 70% ethanol and identified to species morphologically. Preserved ticks will be tested by Ellen Stromdahl (US Army, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD) for pathogens using PCR assays. ARS will determine the effectiveness of an integrated pest management approach to tick control at schools in Prince George's County, Maryland. We hypothesize that combined control using 4-Poster deer feeders and Select TCSTM mouse bait boxes will reduce tick numbers, and suppress these populations faster than what has been reported of these methods individually. Three treatment schools will be provided with 4-Poster Topical Treatment deer feeders. The three control properties will continue to be monitored, but will not receive tick control methods. 4-Poster feeders will be deployed in the spring on school properties. The feeders will be maintained with corn and a pesticide (permethrin) formulation according to manufacturer’s recommendations during peak activity periods of adult ticks. A trail camera will be associated with each 4-Poster to passively survey abundance and use of feeders by deer and other wildlife. Results of this study will be shared with the funding agency, participating schools and other entities, and disseminated to public through conference presentations and scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals. Recommendations will be made to help manage tick problems in schools, particularly those located near wooded areas. Research findings will also be provided to CDC, EPA and other government agencies to help improve tick control practice in order to reduce the risk of tick bite and incidence of Lyme disease in epidemic regions of the United States.