Can acaricide-impregnated leg bands fitted to female red grouse reduce sheep tick parasitization of chicks and increase chick survival?

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Abstract

In parts of northern England, North Wales and the Scottish Highlands, increasing numbers of sheep ticks Ixodes ricinus (Ixodida: Ixodidae), and the louping ill virus they can carry, are considered to be important factors that reduce red grouse Lagopus lagopus scotica productivity. The present study tested this hypothesis by fitting adult female grouse with leg bands impregnated with the acaricide cypermethrin to experimentally control ticks on their chicks on two managed grouse moors in northeast Scotland. The chicks of females fitted with acaricide leg bands showed reduced tick infestations and improved survival in one of the two study years, relative to chicks of control females. Acaricide leg bands constitute a potential management technique that may be adopted by grouse moor managers in circumstances of high tick infestations on grouse chicks.

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