USDA scientists have developed two strategies to ward off cattle fever ticks within U.S. borders and mitigate the impact on the livestock industry. These ticks, crossing the border from Mexico into the United States, transmit bovine babesiosis, commonly known as Texas cattle fever, a deadly disease of cattle that's caused by singled-celled organisms.
Researchers feel the increased spread of infestation is likely due, at least in part, to the increasing populations of white-tailed deer and other wild hoofed animals. So, to control disease-carrying ticks on deer, ARS entomologist J. Matthews Pound and his colleagues at the agency's Knipline-Bushland Livestock Insects Research Laboratory, developed a device called the 4-Poster Deer Treatment Bait Station.
The bait station lures deer into a feeding apparatus that uses rollers to apply insecticide to the animal's head, ears and neck. As the deer grooms itself, it transfers the insecticide to other parts of its body, killing most of the ticks on the animal. Also, the researchers have reformulated a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication called doramectin into an injectable, time-release treatment for cattle. They are working to extend the effective period to six months.