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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: AREA-WIDE SUPPRESSION OF FIRE ANT POPULATIONS IN PASTURES
2008 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Specific objectives are to develop and integrate sustainable fire ant management methods in areawide demonstration projects; to form long-term partnerships among Federal, State, and the private sector; and to transfer to customers economical and ecologically sound technologies to manage fire ants.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
This project will reduce and keep fire ant populations below an (arbitrary) threshold in pastures over a period of 3 years. For each demo in 3 states (Oklahoma, northern exteme of fire ant range; Texas, western extreme; Florida, firmly entrenched subtropical infestations), one 300 acre pasture will be treated only with pesticide bait applications, a second 300 acres will receive bait application and surrounding areas will be infested with 2 self-sustaining biocontrol agents (the phorid fly Pseudaccteon tricuspis, and the microsporidian disease agent Thelohania solenopsae), and a final 300 acres will be untreated and monitored for seasonal population fluctations. Monitoring will include mound counts and foraging activity (food lures) in approx. 30 1/8 to 1/2 acre circular plots in each 300 acre parcel and surrounding areas. In addition, establish small demonstration sites in 'high value" properties within areas with fire ant biocontrol agents, monitor fire ant populations using a food lure methodology, and make pesticide bait applications, and supplemental biocontrol agent inoculations as necessary. GPS and GIS technologies will be used to map observations and to create a comprehensive spatial database; spatial and temporal analyses will assess efficacy, reinfestation rates, establishment and spread of biocontrol agents, ecological impacts, and economic assessments.


3.Progress Report
All Areawide Project large pasture demonstration sites have been completed and final reports collected. The high-value demonstration sites have been completed during this fiscal year and offer the best opportunity to transfer the control technology to the end users and beyond. Final surveys of parasitic phorid flies were made in South Carolina where it was demonstrated to be established and spreading at and around the high-value demonstration sites. In Texas two species of phorid flies (Pseudacteon tricuspis and P. curvatus) release at a high-value site were detected over 20 miles from the release site – indicative of establishment and spread. Oklahoma cooperators documented the spread of the two phorid fly parasites from their release sites, which provided the latest dispersion information, which along with the other data allows us to more accurately update the potential impact of the biological control part the this demonstration project. Researchers collected, entered, and analyzed primary data on the economic impact of fire ants across five states from high-valued areas. This information coupled with secondary data from other research efforts and publications will allow extrapolation of the findings to the entire fire ant belt in the United States. The education component of the project is working to finish a 12 to 16-pg booklet composed of 1- and 2-page info sheets. That will include: Economic Benefits, Restoring the Ecological Balance, Spreading the Natural Enemies, and Research at the High-Value Sites. The above results are in direct support of National Program 104 Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology and addresses specific Action Plan Component 4 Control Technology.


4.Accomplishments
1. Areawide Project Wrap-up. The Areawide project is coming to a close and end products need to be generated that highlight project accomplishments. Data and relevant information from all the states involved in the program were received, processed and analyzed. Agricultural Economist Cooperators through a Texas A&M Specific Cooperative Agreement (SCA) collected and analyzed fire ant economic impact data across five states from high-valued areas to determine fire ant economic impact. These data are being used by the project Core Team to generate output via the Educational component of the project through an SCA with the University of Florida. The activities include the development of publications, digital videos, artwork, and a web site. A plan was created for a 12 or 16-pg booklet composed of 1- and 2-page info sheets that when complete will encompass: Economic Benefits, Restoring the Ecological Balance, Spreading the Natural Enemies, Research at the High-Value Sites, A Naturally Sustained Program for Cooperators, Main Project: Pasture Demonstrations, Blended baits/aerial application, and Monitoring-detection info sheets. A web site for information about the areawide management of fire ants is maintained at this location and the University of Florida and presents program objectives, documentation of activities, and videos to explain the objectives of the areawide program. The following videos were developed: Restoring Ecological Balance, Release of natural enemies and how they control IFA, Production, spread and distribution of natural enemies, and Blended baits. This accomplishment directly supports of National Program 104 Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology, and addresses Action Plan Component 4 Control Technology, Problem Statement 4.3 Area-wide control.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
None.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of Web Sites Managed2

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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