As tick-borne disease incidence increases and pathogens expand into new areas, the need for effective tick management strategies is paramount. In this 5-yr study (2014–2018) conducted in south central Wisconsin, we assessed whether an integrated tick management approach, deployed during peak tick activity (May–August), was more effective at reducing black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis Say (Ixodida: Ixodidae)), than individual interventions. Using a factorial design, invasive vegetation removal (Amur honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii Ruprecht (Dipsacales: Caprifoliaceae) and common buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica Linnaeus (Rosales: Rhamnaceae)) was coupled with deployments of permethrin-treated cotton nesting materials (tick tubes) that target the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus Rafinesque (Rodentia: Cricetidae)). Results show that the probability of encountering a larval tick by drag sampling was unaffected by treatments at the cumulative 5-yr level. However, vegetation removal significantly reduced larval encounters in 2014, 2015, and 2018, by 33%, 57%, and 61% respectively, and reduced the density of questing nymphal (DON) ticks by 45% in 2015 compared to controls. Despite the limited effect on DON, vegetation removal significantly reduced the cumulative 5-yr density of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto infected nymphs (DIN) (70%) compared to controls as a result of decreased nymphal infection prevalence. Sites treated with tick tubes had lower DIN (66%) and DON (54%) across the study and nymphs were reduced every year following the initial year of deployment compared to controls. Combining treatments did not further reduce DIN or DONs. We conclude that long-term integration of tick tubes with invasive vegetation removal does not provide additional benefit over individual treatments alone.
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Vol. 58 • No. 6