An orally delivered arthropod development-inhibitor (fluazuron) was evaluated for its potential to reduce the number of flea and tick vectors found on the dusky-footed woodrat Neotoma fuscipes Baird, a reservoir host important in disease enzootiology in northern California. Pigmented bait cubes containing fluazuron were distributed monthly to woodrat nests in a chaparral habitat for 1 yr. When compared with control woodrats, the numbers of fleas [primarily Orchopeas sexdentatus (Baker)] on treated woodrats were significantly reduced 3–4 mo after initial application, and remained so for the duration of the application period. By contrast, tick numbers were not significantly reduced on treated woodrats. After the cessation of treatments, flea indices remained lower on treated animals for up to 2 mo after application. Approximately 93% of woodrats captured in the treatment area excreted pigmented feces and 93% of distributed bait cubes were removed by woodrats, which indicates that the bait cube formulation and delivery system were highly effective. Bait cubes also were attractive to small rodents and ground-frequenting birds. The results of this study suggest that a monthly application program of fluazuron delivered by bait cube is effective in reducing woodrat flea-burdens, but is not effective, at least in the short-term, in controlling ticks.
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Vol. 38 • No. 1