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Research Project: Integrated Pest Management of Cattle Fever Ticks

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Title: Medicated Corn Feeders to Disinfest Cattle Fever Ticks (Boophilus: Ixodidae: Acari) in a Suburban Population of White-Tailed Deer

Author
item Thomas, Donald
item DUHAIME, ROBERTA - Animal And Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Submitted to: Experimental and Applied Acarology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/5/2022
Publication Date: 3/2/2022
Citation: Thomas, D.B., Duhaime, R. 2022. Medicated Corn Feeders to Disinfest Cattle Fever Ticks (Boophilus: Ixodidae: Acari) in a Suburban Population of White-Tailed Deer. Experimental and Applied Acarology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-022-00699-7.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-022-00699-7

Interpretive Summary: Following their eradication from the United States, Cattle Fever ticks, vectors of cattle fever, have made episodic incursions into, and sometimes beyond, an established barrier zone separating tick-free from infested areas. In large part the incursions involve hosting and transport by wild game animals, such as deer. One approach to disinfest ticks from wild deer is with deer corn medicated to stop parasites. The approach has had mixed success due to factors that have been previously identified with supplemental feeding of wildlife especially competition for the corn with adult male dominance behavior, and the availability of alternative food sources. Given that not all of the deer will intake a therapeutic dose of the medication at all seasons of the year, an open question is whether the approach is efficacious as a stand-alone treatment or as part of an integrated program. As detailed in the present study an intensive effort with corn feeders was successful in eradicating a local outbreak of fever ticks in an urban deer population. The relevant data on deer population size and density, season, infestation rate by ticks, amounts of medication delivered, and data on alterative hosts, is provided.

Technical Abstract: Following their eradication from the United States, Boophilus ticks, vectors of bovine babesiosis, have made episodic incursions into, and sometimes beyond, an established barrier zone separating tick-free from endemic areas. In large part the incursions involve hosting and transport by wild ungulates, such as deer and antelope. One approach to disinfest ticks from wild hosts is with food baits medicated to stop parasites. The approach has had mixed success due to factors that have been previously identified with supplemental feeding of wildlife especially competition for the bait, social dominance behavior, and the availability of alternative food sources. Given that not all of the target hosts will intake a therapeutic dose of the medication (ivermectin) at all seasons of the year, an open question is whether the approach is efficacious as a stand-alone treatment or as part of an integrated program. As detailed in the present study an intensive effort was successful in eradicating a local outbreak of fever ticks. The relevant data on host population size and density, season, infestation rate by ticks, amounts of ivermectin delivered, and data on alterative hosts, is provided.