'4-Poster' Deer Treatment Bait Station
NOTE: Some states have approved the pesticide used in this device, but some also have regulations against the feeding of deer and other wildlife. Please check with your individual state as to current rules and regulations.
What is the Problem?
Tick populations of both the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum and the 'deer tick', Ixodes scapularis, continue to spread geographically throughout much of the country, due in large part to a continued increase in deer herds throughout most of the United States. As tick populations increase so does disease risk, and there are currently ten known major tick-borne infections in the country affecting humans, most of which are carried by species of ticks which feed on deer. One published study has estimated that Lyme disease alone may cost society over two billion dollars a year. It is now apparent that controlling tick populations is a highly effective way to reduce local disease risk.
What is the '4-Poster' Deer Treatment Bait Station?
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Agricultural Research Service (ARS) - Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) has granted an exclusive license of the ARS patented '4-Poster' Deer Treatment Bait Station to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc. (ALDF). The device was developed by researchers J. Mathews Pound, J. Allen Miller, and Craig A. LeMeilleur of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and patented on November 29, 1994 under United States patent number 5367983.
The '4-Poster' device is specifically designed to kill species of ticks that feed on white-tailed deer and especially those for which white-tailed deer are keystone hosts for adult ticks. In this regard, two primary target species for '4-Poster' technology in the U.S. are the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, that transmits agents causing Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and human babesiosis, and the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, that transmits the agent causing human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME). New tick-borne agents of infection have been identified, and the existence of yet others is suspected.
How does the '4-Poster' work?
The '4-Poster' basically consists of a central bin containing clean whole kernel corn used as a bait and two application/feeding stations located at either end of the device. As deer feed on the bait, the design of the device forces them to rub against pesticide-impregnated applicator rollers. The rollers in turn apply tickicide to their ears, heads, necks, and shoulders where roughly 90% of feeding adult ticks are attached. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the tickicide to other parts of the body. Studies (see below) have shown that use of '4-Poster' technology has resulted in the control of 92 to 98% of free-living tick populations in areas around the devices after three years of use.
What are basic requirements for maximum efficacy?
For maximum efficacy in areas where both deer and lone star ticks are found together, the '4-Poster' device should be maintained essentially on a year-round basis. An exception would be if temperatures remained below freezing for extended periods of time. In areas where only deer ticks are found, the devices should be maintained continuously from September through May to impact the entire adult feeding/breeding season. However, adult ticks are not active during prolonged periods of snow cover or below 45° F air temperature. Where only lone star ticks are found, maintenance of the devices from late January or early February through mid to late September will significantly impact both immature (larvae and nymphs) and adult stages on deer.
What have been the research results with the '4-Poster'?
Two studies have been completed, and data are currently being collected and compiled from a third larger study that involves sites in five states in the northeast. Sites that are deer-fenced or where movement of deer is otherwise 'controlled' have better results than 'unrestricted sites,' where deer are able to come and go as they please. Unfenced deer pick up ticks outside the immediate study area and thus are able to reintroduce ticks to treated areas. This is especially true for adult deer ticks during the fall when deer (especially bucks) often expand their normal territorial range, and tick feeding activity is at its peak. Results may also vary depending upon the tickicide used.
Site one: Located near Kerrville, TX at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, two 96-acre deer-fenced wooded plots were used to test efficacy of the '4-Poster' technology in controlling free-living populations of lone star ticks. A single corn-baited '4-Poster' was placed in each pasture, but only the device in one pasture was treated with an oily formulation of the tickicide amitraz. After three years, a 92 to 97% reduction in tick numbers was observed in the plot where deer were allowed to passively treat themselves at the device. Lone star ticks in this region of Texas characteristically have a one-year life cycle. In contrast, deer ticks have a two or three-year life cycle, and hence a meaningful level of control may take longer to appear.
Site two: Located at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland (a single 600+ acre deer-fenced facility) an exceptional 96 to 98% reduction in free-living nymphal deer ticks was noted after three years of treatment using permethrin (tickicide).
Sites in five Northeastern States:
Data is currently being compiled after five years of study at sites in MD, NJ, NY, CT and RI. Treatment was terminated in the spring of 2002, but tick sampling will continue through 2004 because the tick's two-year life cycle necessitates observing efficacy of treatment for two additional years.
The EPA has approved a specially formulated 10% permethrin based tickicide for use in treating ticks on deer. As with any pesticide, labels regarding its safety are included with its shipment to the Licensed Pesticide Operator.
For additional information contact:
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