Thursday, April 3, 2014

Food Plots may limit EHD deaths

EHD and Food Plots

My theory of using Sudan in my food plots to limit exposure to Culicoides and therefore exposure to the EHD/BT viruses seems to be showing strong evidence at LSU.  The university started testing the theory with research last year.  Sudan and other plants give off CO2 and Octanol at night like mammals do.  The gnats, like mosquitoes, are primarily sugar feeders.  Only females seek blood meals and only during the time they are maturing the eggs they are carrying.  They find us for blood meals by following the trail of CO2 and Octanol we emit.  Since my Sudan gives this off too, it is likely that deer bedded in the food plots with tall thick biomass are 'hidden' from the insects. 

I noticed the behavioral change in 2012 when we had a severe EHD outbreak.  The only pen that I had Sudan in was my buck breeder pen.  At night my bucks had been sleeping outside of the Sudan along the fence in Bermuda grass.  About the time EHD hit us, the bucks all started bedding inside the Sudan at night.  That was a complete change of behavior that I found dramatic.  I lost large numbers of deer to EHD before I found the right dosage of Dexamethasone.  Deer died in all of my pens on both sides of the breeder buck pen but I didn’t lose any in the buck pen.  I asked Dr. Lane Foil at LSU about the Sudan and at first he said he hadn’t really thought about anything like that.  Later he contacted me and said he thought I might be on to something. 

They planted Sudan in 2013 and the initial results of the insect trapping showed dramatically lower numbers inside the Sudan with much higher numbers in traps outside the Sudan.  They will spend more time and greater detail studying the effects of Sudan on insect exposure this year.  It’s something to consider for not only our breeder pens but also in hunting preserves, whether high fenced or not.  Planting strips of Sudan along the edges of food plots may offer an escape from biting insects for all deer.

Hope this helps save some of your deer.  It’s easy.

Charles ‘Deer Man’ Black

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