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Evaluating baits with lufenuron and nitenpyram for flea control on prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) to mitigate plague

July 24, 2023

Plague, caused by Yersinia pestis, is a widespread threat to endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) and their primary prey, prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.). Wildlife biologists most commonly manage plague using insecticides to control fleas, the primary vectors of Y. pestis. We tested edible baits containing the insecticides lufenuron and/or nitenpyram in prairie dogs. During a laboratory study, we treated 26 white-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys leucurus) with lufenuron at 300 mg/kg body mass. All animals remained clinically healthy over the 9 wk monitoring period. Although serum lufenuron concentrations were >130 ppb in two treatment groups at week 1, concentrations declined to ≤60 ppb after 3 wk in non-torpid prairie dogs and after 7 wk in torpid prairie dogs. In a field experiment, we tested baits containing a combination of 75 mg lufenuron and 6 mg nitenpyram, respectively, in black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus). We uniformly distributed baits at 125 baits/ha on two plots (treated once) and 250 baits/ha on two plots (each treated twice 4.4 wk apart). Following treatments, flea abundance increased on prairie dogs and remained stable in burrows. Our findings indicate that baits containing lufenuron and nitenpyram, at the reported treatment rates, are ineffective tools for flea control on prairie dogs. Future experiments might evaluate efficacy of higher doses of lufenuron and nitenpyram, and repetitive treatments at differing intervals over time to evaluate potentially therapeutic treatments.

Publication Year 2023
Title Evaluating baits with lufenuron and nitenpyram for flea control on prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) to mitigate plague
DOI 10.7589/JWD-D-22-00168
Authors David A. Eads, Kevin T. Castle, Margaret A. Wild, Jeff Borchert, Travis Livieri, Marc R. Matchett, Phillip Dobesh, John Hughes-Clarke, Eddie Childers
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Index ID 70248265
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center