Researchers Take New Approach to Fight Cattle Fever Ticks
WESLACO – Although Texas has a $12 billion-a-year cattle industry, the cattle fever tick could devastate ranchers. Now, a Rio Grande Valley researcher is looking at a new angle to combat the tick.
Cindy Flores said she’s felt the pinch of cattle fever tick in her livestock.
"I have a small herd. I'm considered a small producer and we are in quarantine,” she said.
She said being under quarantine for the last two years hasn't been easy for her business.
"But we have had the constant quarantine down here in the Rio Grande Valley, which is also extremely expensive,” she added.
She said before this research, nothing was working to stop the cattle fever tick.
"We fight that fever tick... from different aspects and those aspects aren't working at this time,” she said.
Now, a new research angle could help her cattle get out of quarantine.
Rio Grande Valley USDA scientist John Goolsby is hoping to combat the tick through Nilgai, a secondary host and well-known problem through cattle ranchers.
"So, the Nilgai comes to latrines, you know common latrines, every night,” he said. “And it's kind of a gathering point, so that means we can put the Nilgai sprayer there and have a sensor on it that remotely activates."
The sprayers aren't accompanied by just any solution; it has a live worm inside of it.
"A nematode right, because it's nontoxic to mammals or birds,” he said. “It happens to be the one that is in production worldwide, is actually native to the Rio Grande Valley."
The nematode kills the tick. It’s used here because it's so heat resistant and it already occurs in our environment naturally.
"You're not using a harsh chemical or anything,” said Goolsby.
He added this new research method is one of the many to help combat the deadly tick.
"Everybody is trying to figure out a solution to eradicate the tick,” he said.
Goolsby said getting rid of the cattle fever tick is critical.
For now, Flores says her cattle will stay in quarantine.