Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2013
Publication Date: 7/8/2014
Citation: Phillips, P.L., Welch, J.B., Kramer, M.H. 2014. Development of a spatially targeted field sampling technique for the Southern Cattle Tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, by mapping white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, habitat in South Texas. Journal of Insect Science. 14:88.
Interpretive Summary: Cattle ticks have caused enormous losses to the U.S. cattle industry in the past until a federally funded eradication program began in 1906. Texas is the only state that maintains and actively monitors a permanent quarantine zone, due to its proximity to tick-infested cattle in Mexico. Previously there was no established technique for sampling larval stages of cattle tick in South Texas. In this study, satellite imagery was used to map favorable habitats of white-tailed deer to target sampling sites for cattle ticks. In habitats more likely to find deer one is also more likely to find ticks. The results will be useful for directing sampling activities in the field and could enhance current control strategies for cattle fever ticks.
Technical Abstract: The aim of this study was to determine whether remote sensed data (Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery) could be used to identify white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmerman), and habitat and target locations for sampling free-living larvae of Southern Cattle Ticks, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, in South Texas. We used two methods for mapping white-tailed deer habitat, an object oriented method to identify closed canopies and waterways for deer movement and two vegetation indices (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index [NDVI] and Modified Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index [MSAVI]) to identify forage and sampling locations for ticks. Larvae of R. (B.) microplus, were sampled in Zapata County, Texas by walking transects with attached flannel panels to the sampler's pants. Although our data set and sampling period were limited, data analysis demonstrated sampling of free-living larvae of R. (B.) microplus can be conducted in South Texas and that larvae were most abundant in areas harboring white-tailed deer. Spatial analysis of satellite imagery to classify white-tailed deer/Southern Cattle Tick habitat proved efficacious and may be useful in directing sampling activities in the field.