Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Pennsylvania Deer Parasite Research Project

The Extension Entomologist at Penn State University is leading a research project focused on deer parasites, specifically ticks and deer keds (a type of fly), which may transmit disease to deer and hunters. He is recruiting deer hunters to submit specimens they collect from deer and have free sampling kits available for the first 500 who pre-order them. He would really appreciate it if you could share the information below with deer hunters, sportsmen’s clubs, and hunting leases. I've included images of the brochure about the project below, including how to order a kit. Click here to go to the Pennsylvania Parasite Hunters project web site.

Pennsylvania Parasite Hunters
Blacklegged tick
Blacklegged ticks are perhaps the best-known external parasite of deer in Pennsylvania as they aggressively bite people and can transmit the pathogens that cause Lyme and other diseases. However, ticks aren’t the only deer-associated parasites that bite humans. Deer keds, which are a kind of parasitic fly, can be more abundant than ticks on individual deer and are often confused with ticks due to their superficial resemblance.

Deer ked
Deer keds have historically been considered a minor nuisance due to their bites but of no serious medical concern. However, several recent studies have isolated various pathogens from keds using DNA sequencing. It is not known yet whether keds are simply picking the pathogens up when they feed on infected hosts or whether they can actively transmit the disease agents.

As a result, the Penn State Insect Identification Laboratory and the Penn State Veterinary Entomology Laboratory have teamed up to develop a volunteer project to learn more about keds in Pennsylvania. Hunters are requested to send in specimens of both ticks and keds collected from harvested deer. Free parasite collection kits – which contain a louse comb for combing through deer hair for ked specimens, vials with preservative, and postage-paid return envelopes – are available to request through the project website.

Hunters without such kits can collect keds and ticks into hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol and send the specimens in liquid-tight containers (such as a pill vial) in ziplock bags to the PSU Insect Identification Laboratory, address below. We also ask that the following information be included with the parasites: name (optional), date of collection, collection locality (county at minimum, township or closest city preferred (we don’t need to know where your secret hunting spot is), and if the parasites were collected on the deer or the hunter.

Additional details about deer keds, including life history and photographs; identification; how to avoid keds and ticks, including precautions to take before and after hunting; and how collect and submit samples are available on the project website.

Mail inquiries and samples can be directed to the following address:
Attn: Ked research project
Insect Identification Laboratory
501 Agricultural Science & Industries Building
University Park, PA, 16802

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