Project Number: 6402-22320-007-00
Start Date: Oct 01, 2009
End Date: Mar 10, 2012
Chemical control is a critical component in fire ant management. Bait using slow-acting toxicants and mound treatment using synthetic contact insecticides are commonly used in fire ant control. With the ever-increasing concern over environmental safety, ideal fire ant control products of both bait and mound treatment must be less-toxic, long-lasting, and high-selective. There is not a single product in current market, which meets all the criteria. This research will focus on the discovery of natural compounds with new modes of action for fire ant control. One promising source of such compounds is the defensive chemicals of sympatric ant species. Beside the natural toxins, fire ant behavior modifying compounds will also be investigated. They include attractant, feeding stimulants, and repellants. These compounds can be used to improve the efficacy of fire ant control products without increasing the dose of toxins. New toxins and behavior modifying compounds will be used to formulate fire ant control products which are safer, more effective and more selective. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is an attractive alternative to chemical insecticides because it is not toxic to vertebrates and to nontargetinsects. One strain, Bt subsp. israelensis (Bti), has been used for 2 decades for mosquito control. This research aims at developing technologies to improve the effectiveness of biolarvicides, using Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. Israelensis as the model active ingredient, through the development or improvement of novel delivery systems. In addition to utility of ecologically sound formulation constituents, a practical and economically feasible development process will be developed and implemented to enable technology transfer of any newly developed technologies.