White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) serve as a host for cattle fever ticks (Rhipicephalus [Boophilus] microplus and Rhipicephalus [Boophilus] annulatus; CFTs); therefore, deer are a concern for CFT control programs in southern Texas, US. Systemic (oral delivery of ivermectin) and topical (permethrin on pelage) treatment devices have been developed for white-tailed deer; however, the efficacy of these treatment options has not been determined for CFTs in southern Texas. Our objectives were to evaluate the effectiveness of CFT treatment strategies by 1) measuring exposure rates of deer to the acaricides permethrin and ivermectin, 2) determining the relationship between CFTs on deer and exposure to the acaricides, and 3) determining if photos from remote cameras at medicated bait sites can be used as a measure of acaricide treatment. We captured 327 deer at four sites in southern Texas. Deer visitation to medicated bait sites was monitored using remote cameras from March 2010 to February 2012. There was no relationship between the presence of permethrin and the probability of being infested with CFTs (P≥0.336). The probability of infestation with CFTs decreased as serum ivermectin levels increased for male (n=18, P=0.098) and female (n=33, P<0.001) deer. Our results indicate ivermectin may be more effective in treating CFTs than permethrin; thus it would be worthwhile to develop topical acaricides other than permethrin for treating white-tailed deer in southern Texas.
Keywords: Bait sites; cattle fever ticks; ivermectin; permethrin; white-tailed deer.