Submitted to: Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 25, 2001
Publication Date: March 5, 2001
Citation: Williams, D.F., Brenner, R.J. 2001. Update on USDA-ARS Fire Ant Biological Control Research. 2001 Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings. p. 29-31. San Antonio, Texas. February 28-March 2, 2001. Technical Abstract: A National Fire Ant Strategy was initiated in 1998 by the USDA-ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, Florida to coordinate efforts among federal, state, and private sectors to ensure that current and new technologies are quickly evaluated for effectiveness, and rapidly implemented. The goal of the strategy was to develop and optimize integrated pest management (IPM) tactics using biologically-based components with the goal of reducing the imported fire ant (IFA) to levels below economic thresholds on agricultural lands and local elimination of this pest in urban environments. By coordinating these efforts between federal, state and private groups, we could release and monitor biological control organisms in several states, compare regional results, develop new biological controls, mass propagate those that are successful, and then develop these into IPM strategies for area-wide management of the imported fire ant. Our biological control research has concentrated on three self-sustaining agents, 1) a parasitic ant, Solenopsis (Labauchena) daguerrei (Santschi), 2) phorid flies in the genus Psuedacteon sp., and 3) two pathogens, Thelohania solenopsae, and Vairimorpha invictae. The parasitic ant is a potential stress factor of fire ant colonies and is being held in quarantine at CMAVE. In quarantine, previous attempts to transfer S. daguerrei from S. richteri to S. invicta colonies have not been successful but hopefully, future studies will solve this problem. The fire ant decapitating fly Pseudacteon tricuspis is rapidly expanding out of release sites around Gainesville, FL. The flies have also been released in 11 states and appear to be established at point locations in 7 states (AL, FL, LA, MS, NC, SC, and TX).