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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438077

Research Project: Evaluation of New Acaricide Formulations against Immature Stages of the Black-Legged Tick

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32000-012-21-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2021

Evaluate efficacy of new acaricide formulations in reducing population density of the black-legged tick and tick-borne pathogen (TBP) prevalence in ticks and white-footed mice in central Pennsylvania. Specific objectives are to (1) assess baseline population density of questing nymphs and adults and TBP prevalence; (2) determine parasitism of white-footed mice by immature black-legged ticks and TBP prevalence in both mice and ticks parasitizing the hosts; (3) evaluate efficacy of new tick control acaricide formulations in reducing population density of the black-legged tick and TBP prevalence in ticks and white-footed mice.

Field research will be conducted by Dr. Erika Machtinger of Penn State University with guidance from USDA, ARS. New oral formulations of acaricide for this study will be generated and provided by another cooperator under a separate NACA. Collection of baseline tick data will take place in 2020 tick season. Four areas in Centre County, Pennsylvania with known rodent and tick abundance will be selected. Each site will have eight transect areas where rodent trapping and questing tick surveillance will occur. A total of 32 transects will be established, each representing a different residential property. Questing ticks will be evaluated by dragging bi-weekly (depending on weather conditions) beginning in May and continuing through October. Dragging will occur along all transects (8 per site). Ticks will be collected and stored in ETOH and identified to species and life stage. Rodent trapping will occur along each of the eight 100-m transects with 25 traps set per transect. 100-m transects were chosen as homes in the area range from 40-120 m borders with forested habitat. All transects will be at minimum 1,000 ft apart to reduce the cross-over distribution of rodents. Rodents will be trapped for one night once per month in May, June, July, August, and September 2020 according to previously established IACUC guidelines. Tissue and blood samples and basic morphometrics will be taken. Samples will be sent to a collaborator for pathogen testing. In the second year / tick season, one of four field sites along with residential properties bordering that chosen field site will be used to conduct pesticide treatment efficacy evaluation study. This includes 16 transects inside the wooded area and16 home sites. These transects will be assigned into four treatment groups through randomization, and each treatment includes four transects. The four treatment groups include the negative control, bait only control, bait plus acaricide #1, and bait plus acaricide #2. Tick sampling and mouse trapping will be done similarly as in in year one. Treatments will be applied in early May, at the beginning of the nymphal season. Tick control efficacy will be determined by comparing tick questing tick population density, tick load on mice, and TBP prevalence of the treatment groups to those of the untreated controls.