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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effect of surfaces on the foraging efficiency of Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Authors
item Kafle, Lekhnath -
item Wu, Wen-Jer -
item VANDER MEER, ROBERT
item Shih, Cheng-Jen -

Submitted to: Formosan Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 29, 2009
Publication Date: July 1, 2009
Citation: Kafle, L., Wu, W., Vander Meer, R.K., Shih, C. 2009. Effect of surfaces on the foraging efficiency of Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Formosan Entomologist. 29:51-58.

Interpretive Summary: Imported fire ants infest more than 320 million acres in 13 southern tier states and Puerto Rico and are spreading northward. This invasive ant is estimated to be responsible for almost $7 billion annually in damage repair, medical care, and control costs. The affected economic sectors are broad ranging and include households, electric service and communications, agriculture (crops and livestock), schools and recreation areas. Interestingly, ants comprise 5% of the world’s 100 worst invasive alien species, and of the 17 land invertebrates listed, 28% are ants, including fire ants! In the last decade S. invicta has changed from an invasive pest ant in the United States to a global problem, with infestations occurring in Australia Taiwan, mainland China, Mexico, and many Caribbean Island countries. Increasing global commerce ensures that not just fire ants, but other invasive ant species will be distributed to compatible habitats throughout the world. Fire ant populations are large and require a great deal of resources just to maintain populations. Foraging behaviors may be modified in response to different ecological circumstances in the diverse areas of the world currently inhabited by fire ants. Scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA, ARS, Gainesville, Florida USA, and the Department of Entomology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, investigated the effects of different surfaces on the foraging efficiency of Solenopsis invicta workers. The results indicated that the foragers of S. invicta were more efficient when they foraged on hard and smooth plastic surfaces than on soil surfaces. Similarly, foragers of S. invicta were less efficient when they encountered obstacles such as gravel or grass. The foraging activities of the S. invicta workers were considerably less on grass than on gravel and, interestingly, fire ant workers from wild colonies were more efficient than workers from one-year-old laboratory reared colonies. This knowledge can be important in designing integrated management of this important pest ant.

Technical Abstract: The effects of different surfaces on the foraging efficiency of Solenopsis invicta workers were observed. The results indicated that the foragers of S. invicta were more efficient when they foraged on hard and smooth plastic surfaces than on soil surfaces. Similarly, foragers of S. invicta were less efficient when they encountered obstacles such as gravel or grass. The foraging activities of the S. invicta workers were considerably less on grass than on gravel, and fire ant workers from wild colonies were more efficient than workers from one-year-old laboratory colonies.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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