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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Red Imported Fire Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): An Historical Perspective of Treatment Programs and the Development of Chemical Baits Forcontrol

Authors
item Williams, David
item Collins, Homer - APHIS
item Oi, David

Submitted to: American Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 16, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The red imported fire ant(RIFA) has had a substantial impact in the U.S. on humans, agriculture, and wildlife with costs of one-half billion to several billion dollars per year. The most harmful problem is its stinging of humans which in some cases, has caused serious injuries and even death. The urbanization of the U.S. and migration of people to the Sun Belt states sand the expansion of RIFA populations guarantees an inevitable contact between the two. The development of new technologies utilizing multiple strategies will be important for the future management of RIFA. Research programs before 1975 focused mainly on the development of chemicals for control because of the need for quick elimination of fire ant colonies and thus, relief from these pests even if treatments lasted only for a short time. The success of discovering new chemicals, formulations, and delivery systems has been outstanding. Unfortunately, the RIFA is still with us and dwill be with us for the foreseeable future. Beginning in the late 1970's to the present, research concentrated on not only new chemical development but the RIFA's biology, ecology, and behavior. It became obvious that newer methods of control that utilized biorational and other agents that would have less impact on the environment needed to be developed. Chemicals will still be one of the important tools for RIFA control in the future. This is especially true for those areas considered as significant RIFA risk for humans such as schools, recreational areas, around nursing homes and other places where people frequently engage in outdoor activities or the ants move indoors. However, the development of newer, safer and more environmentally compatible chemicals, formulations, and methods of control of the RIFA, including biological control, has become a high priority.

Technical Abstract: The red imported fire ant(RIFA) has had a substantial impact in the U.S. on humans, agriculture, and wildlife with costs of one-half billion to several billion dollars per year. The most harmful problem is its stinging of humans which in some cases, has caused serious injuries and even death. The urbanization of the U.S. and migration of people to the Sun Belt states sand the expansion of RIFA populations guarantees an inevitable contact between the two. The development of new technologies utilizing multiple strategies will be important for the future management of RIFA. Research programs before 1975 focused mainly on the development of chemicals for control because of the need for quick elimination of fire ant colonies and thus, relief from these pests even if treatments lasted only for a short time. The success of discovering new chemicals, formulations, and delivery systems has been outstanding. Unfortunately, the RIFA is still with us and dwill be with us for the foreseeable future. Beginning in the late 1970's to the present, research concentrated on not only new chemical development but the RIFA's biology, ecology, and behavior. It became obvious that newer methods of control that utilized biorational and other agents that would have less impact on the environment needed to be developed. Chemicals will still be one of the important tools for RIFA control in the future. This is especially true for those areas considered as significant RIFA risk for humans such as schools, recreational areas, around nursing homes and other places where people frequently engage in outdoor activities or the ants move indoors. However, the development of newer, safer and more environmentally compatible chemicals, formulations, and methods of control of the RIFA, including biocontrol, has become a high priority.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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