A penned study for obtaining definitive information on the status of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as a host for cattle fever-ticks (Boophilus microplus) was conducted on St. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Four generations of fever-ticks were propagated on one deer during a six month period.
Nine wild white-tailed deer also were collected from four insular estates to evaluate the carrier status of these animals on an island where cattle fever-ticks are indigenous. Two deer were infested with B. microplus where contact with domestic livestock had not occurred for 20 years; five deer were free of B. microplus where a vigorous cattle dipping program had been practiced for three years; and, two deer were infested with B. microplus where contact with fever-tick infested cattle occurred at irregular intervals.
It was concluded that white-tailed deer constitute a host species for B. microplus and must be considered in future fever tick eradication endeavors. This study also suggested that, through routine dipping of cattle, fever ticks may be eradicated from an area where cattle and deer cohabit the same premises.