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Evidence for Role of White-Tailed Deer (Artiodactyla: Cervidae) in Epizootiology of Cattle Ticks and Southern Cattle Ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in Reinfestations Along the Texas/Mexico Border in South Texas: A Review and Update

J. M. Pound, J. E. George, D. M. Kammlah, K. H. Lohmeyer, R. B. Davey
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC09359 211-218 First published online: 1 April 2010


From 1907 when the fever tick eradication campaign began until 1933, the tick eradication methods of dipping cattle in an acaricide or “pasture vacation” were enormously successful in eradicating southern cattle ticks [Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Canestrini)], until failures began to occur in some areas of Florida. Regarding the failures in Florida, the consensus was that populations of white-tailed deer [Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann)] infested with southern cattle ticks were responsible. After numerous deer in several counties were killed, eradication was achieved in Florida. As in Florida, in Texas increasing numbers of failures of the pasture vacation approach to tick eradication from the 1970s to the present are known to be related to the abundance of white-tailed deer and perhaps other wild ungulate species. A sizable body of evidence confirms the hypothesis that white-tailed deer support the dispersal and maintenance of both cattle ticks [Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus (Say)] and southern cattle ticks (cattle fever ticks) within the permanent quarantine or buffer zone in South Texas along the Rio Grande, as well as in the so-called free (“cattle fever tick-free”) area north and east of the buffer zone and extending to the east coast of the United States. As of August 2009, in addition to the permanent quarantine zone of ≆2,233 km2, three temporary preventative or blanket quarantines were established. Currently, only two methodologies exist to control ticks feeding on white-tailed deer: 1) a systemic treatment method involving dispersal of ivermectin-medicated corn, Zea mays L.; and 2) two topical treatment methods, ‘4-poster’ deer treatment bait stations and ‘2-poster’ deer treatment feeder adapters, both of which passively apply topically active acaricide to deer for the eradication of populations of cattle fever tick associated with white-tailed deer. This study presents and summarizes confirmational support for the role of white-tailed deer derived from historical accounts, circumstantial evidence from review of recent infestations, and cattle fever tick infestations on white-tailed deer that were live-captured and examined specifically for cattle fever ticks.

  • Rhipicephalus
  • Boophilus annulatus
  • Boophilus microplus
  • white-tailed deer
  • cattle fever tick

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