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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: Integrated pest management:concepts,tactics, strategies and case studies

Authors
item Oi, David
item Drees, Bastiaan - TAMU/DEPT OF ENTOMOL.

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 4, 2007
Publication Date: January 12, 2009
Citation: Oi, D.H., Drees, B.M. 2009. Fire ant IPM. In: Radcliffe, E.B., Hutchison, W.D., Cancelado, R.E., editors. Integrated pest management: concepts, tactics, strategies and case studies. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. p. 390-401.

Interpretive Summary: Fire ants entered the United States before the mid 1930’s and have spread within the country to over 129.5 million hectares. 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. Scientists from USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology and Texas A&M University have reviewed 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. 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 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. Fire ants, with their tremendous reproduction, mobility, and ability to occupy a wide range of habitats made eradication, highly unlikely. With eradication in the southern U.S. no longer an option, greater emphasis was placed on basic biological research which ultimately improved control measures including the utilization of biological control agents. 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: Fire ants, Solenopsis richteri and Solenopsis invicta, entered the United States before the mid 1930’s and have spread within the country to over 129.5 million ha. The rapid and extensive spread of these stinging ants resulted in drastic attempts to eliminate or control the problem quickly. 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 including metabolic inhibitors and insect growth regulators. Fire ants, with their tremendous reproduction, mobility, and ability to occupy a wide range of habitats made eradication, highly unlikely. With eradication in the southern U.S. no longer an option, greater emphasis was placed on basic biological research which ultimately improved control measures including the utilization of biological control agents. Fire ant management practices are evolving to integrate both chemical and biological controls to secure site-specific, long-term suppression of fire ants. Fire ants have now spread globally where extensive infestations have occurred in Australia and Asia and new incursions will certainly continue. The fire ant invasion of the U.S. has provided valuable lessons, technology, and knowledge on fire ant control and biology. This has provided a basis for the ongoing development of fire ant integrated pest management as well as recent eradication programs in newly infested areas.

Last Modified: 9/3/2014
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