White-tailed deer treated themselves with a commercial pour-on acaricide formulation containing 2% amitraz as they fed from an ARS-patented ‘4-poster’ topical treatment device. Whole kernel corn attracted deer to a single device placed in each of two deer-fenced pastures. In the treatment pasture, the rollers of the treatment device were charged with the acaricide, whereas the rollers of the device in the other pasture remained untreated. Deer were allowed to use the ‘4-posters’ during periods of tick activity beginning in early to midspring and lasting through late summer to early fall for three consecutive years. Pretreatment sampling of adults and nymphs with dry-ice traps and larval masses with flip cloths showed no significant differences in population indices between the two pastures; however, after the third year of treatment, control of nymphal and adult ticks in the treated pasture was 91.9 and 93.7%, respectively, when compared with the untreated pasture. Control of larval masses increased from 68.4% in year 1 to 96.4% in year 2, but declined to 88.0% in year 3, probably because of the presence of feral hogs. This study demonstrated that application of amitraz to white-tailed deer through free-choice interaction with a ‘4-poster’ device significantly reduced the abundance of free-living lone star ticks in a deer-fenced experimental pasture. Moreover, the yearly pattern of incremental increases in control and the final percentage control values for all three parasitic life stages in this topical application study were similar in magnitude to that observed in a previously conducted study in which the systemic acaricide ivermectin was used to reduce populations of free-living ticks by controlling ticks on deer.
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Vol. 37 • No. 6