Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT OF IMPORTED FIRE ANTS AND EMERGING URBAN PEST PROBLEMS

Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects

Title: Evolution of Fire Ant Control

Author
item Oi, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 22, 2007
Publication Date: November 16, 2007
Citation: Oi, D.H. 2007. Evolution of Fire Ant Control. Meeting Abstract.The 19th Faopma Convention and International Exhibition on Pesticides, Material and equipment.1:31-37.

Interpretive Summary: The imported fire ants that entered the United States over 70 years ago have spread within the country to over 129.5 million ha. Fire ants have now spread globally where extensive infestations have occurred in Australia and Asia and new infestations will certainly be found. The fire ant invasion of the U.S. has provided valuable lessons, technology, and knowledge on fire ant control and biology. A scientist from USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology reviews the historical basis for the ongoing development of fire ant integrated pest management as well as recent eradication programs in newly infested areas. The rapid and extensive spread of these stinging ants resulted in drastic attempts to eliminate or control the problem quickly. Efforts initially focused on treating individual nests with highly toxic insecticides, followed by large-scale eradication and control programs. The large-scale control efforts saw a shift from aerial applications of the acutely toxic contact insecticide heptachlor, to applications of the less toxic insecticide mirex formulated as a bait. However, mirex accumulated in the environment and its use was banned. Nevertheless, mirex bait has served as a model for the development of currently available fire ant baits which contain more environmentally compatible active ingredients. Concurrent with the development of bait formulations for fire ant control, there was interest in the utilization of biological control agents. Within the last 10 years, the release and/or discovery of parasites and pathogens from South America in the United States, can potentially hamper fire ant populations. Fire ant management practices are evolving to integrate both chemical and biological controls to secure site-specific, long-term suppression of fire ants.

Technical Abstract: The imported fire ants that entered the United States over 70 years ago have spread within the country to over 129.5 million ha. Efforts to stop the expansion and suppress fire ant populations have resulted in changing methods of control. Initial efforts focused on treating individual nests with highly toxic insecticides available at that time. Large-scale eradication and control programs saw a shift from aerial applications of the acutely toxic contact insecticide heptachlor, to applications of the less toxic mirex formulated into a bait. Unfortunately, mirex accumulated in the environment and its use was banned. However, mirex bait has served as a model for the development of currently available fire ant baits which contain more environmentally compatible active ingredients. Recently, insecticides with long residual activity against fire ants and fast-acting baits have become available, providing new options for the control of fire ants. Concurrent with the development of bait formulations for fire ant control, there was interest in the utilization of biological control agents. Within the last 10 years, the release and/or discovery of parasites and pathogens from South America in the United States, can potentially hamper fire ant populations. Fire ant management practices are evolving to integrate both chemical and biological controls to secure site-specific, long-term suppression of fire ants.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page