|MACHTINGER, ERIKA - Pennsylvania State University
Submitted to: Ecosphere
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/7/2019
Publication Date: 12/12/2019
Citation: Machtinger, E., Li, A.Y. 2019. Tick control bait box use by Peromyscus spp. influenced by habitat placement but raises questions on disease ecology. Ecosphere. 10(12:e02972.
Interpretive Summary: White-footed mice are important reservoir hosts for the pathogen that causes Lyme disease in people. Bait boxes are among few commercially available host-targeted tick control tools that are intended for use to control immature deer ticks feeding on white-footed mice in the environment. It is unknown how these bait boxes are used by the target species or potential risks associated with supplemental baiting. This study was designed to understand bait consumption by mice in relation to vegetation cover classes and the nutritional value of baits in comparison to native acorn species. Results indicate (1) bait boxes were used more frequently in herbaceous and shrub habitats than those placed in areas with bare ground or canopy cover alone; (2) white-footed mice visited bait boxes regardless of bait presence, although not as frequently. Findings from this research will be used by pest management specialists interested in reducing the rate of Lyme disease in humans.
Technical Abstract: White-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus (Rafinesque), are considered to be important reservoir hosts for Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, the causative agent of Lyme disease. Host-targeted and non-lethal Select TCSTM bait boxes have been shown to be effective at delivering small doses of fipronil to wild P. leucopus, resulting in reductions of Ixodes scapularis, the Lyme disease vector, in the environment. However, while effective at reducing tick presence, these bait boxes have not been evaluated for use by the target species or potential risks associated with supplemental baiting that may population growth and life history parameters. The use of bait boxes measured by bait consumption assumed to be due to P. leucopus in relation to vegetation cover classes and the nutritional value of baits compared to eight native acorn species were evaluated at five field sites during a two-year study period. Rodent behavior around bait boxes also were analyzed using cameras traps. Bait boxes were used more frequently in herbaceous and shrub habitats than those placed in areas with bare ground or canopy cover alone. Significant amounts of bait were consumed throughout the study, but in some habitat types bait boxes were not used. The bait was found to be similar to native acorns in energy content, suggesting that it may serve as a supplement or replacement for natural foods, potentially increasing survivorship and reproduction. Behavioral analysis demonstrated that white-footed mice visited bait boxes regardless of bait presence, but not as frequently. This may suggest the use of food odors alone could be sufficient for attracting rodents to bait boxes, reducing the negative effects of baiting wildlife.