The effectiveness of permethrin-treated deer stations for control of the Lyme disease vector Ixodes scapularis on Cape Cod and the islands: A five-year experiment

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Abstract

Background: The use of animal host-targeted pesticide application to control blacklegged ticks, which transmit the Lyme disease bacterium between wildlife hosts and humans, is receiving increased attention as an approach to Lyme disease risk management. Included among the attractive features of host-targeted approaches is the reduced need for broad-scale pesticide usage. In the eastern USA, one of the best-known of these approaches is the corn-baited "4-poster" deer feeding station, so named because of the four pesticide-treated rollers that surround the bait troughs. Wildlife visitors to these devices receive an automatic topical application of acaricide, which kills attached ticks before they can reproduce. We conducted a 5-year controlled experiment to estimate the effects of 4-poster stations on tick populations in southeastern Massachusetts, where the incidence of Lyme disease is among the highest in the USA. Methods. We deployed a total of forty-two 4-posters among seven treatment sites and sampled for nymph and adult ticks at these sites and at seven untreated control sites during each year of the study. Study sites were distributed among Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. The density of 4-poster deployment was lower than in previous 4-poster studies and resembled or possibly exceeded the levels of effort considered by county experts to be feasible for Lyme disease risk managers. Results: Relative to controls, blacklegged tick abundance at treated sites was reduced by approximately 8.4%, which is considerably less than in previous 4-poster studies. Conclusions: In addition to the longer duration and greater replication in our study compared to others, possible but still incomplete explanations for the smaller impact we observed include the lower density of 4-poster deployment as well as landscape and mammalian community characteristics that may complicate the ecological relationship between white-tailed deer and blacklegged tick populations. © 2014 Grear et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Grear, J. S., Koethe, R., Hoskins, B., Hillger, R., Dapsis, L., & Pongsiri, M. (2014). The effectiveness of permethrin-treated deer stations for control of the Lyme disease vector Ixodes scapularis on Cape Cod and the islands: A five-year experiment. Parasites and Vectors, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-7-292

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