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J Vector Ecol. 2011 Jun;36(1):100-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1948-7134.2011.00146.x.

Field evaluation of imidacloprid as a systemic approach to flea control in black-tailed prairie dogs, Cynomys ludovicianus.

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  • 1U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Dakota Ecological Services Field Office, Pierre, SD 57501, USA.

Abstract

Epizootic outbreaks of sylvatic plague have dramatically influenced prairie dog (Cynomys sp.) populations across North America. While a great deal of debate surrounds the cause and persistence of plague, flea control can stop the spread of plague epizootic outbreaks and even increase prairie dog survival under non-epizootic conditions. We investigated a newly-developed imidacloprid-treated grain bait that could potentially reduce flea infestations and mitigate the effects of plague on black-tailed prairie dogs (C. ludovicianus). We used a study design involving randomly assigned experimental and control study plots to assess the effectiveness of the systemic flea control product. We observed a significant difference in flea prevalence and abundance between experimental and control sites on three of the four sites treated with a single application of imidacloprid-treated grain bait for up to 90 days post-treatment. We observed an even greater reduction in flea infestations following the double application of treatment bait on two of three additional experimental sites. While we were unable to reduce flea infestations to the extent reported for more commonly used topical insecticides containing deltamethrin, imidacloprid might still be effective at reducing the risk of plague and halting epizootics. In addition, this systemic product can be more rapidly applied than topical insecticides, providing managers with a tool to quickly reduce flea infestations. Future research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of different application timing and rates, the utility of the product in limiting plague, and the potential effects on non-target species that might also consume the treated bait.

© 2011 The Society for Vector Ecology.

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