Plots of land were treated with insecticide only. These treatments reduced fire ant populations by about 90 percent. But within several months fire ants reinvaded from surrounding areas.
Other plots were treated with insecticide, andnatural enemies were released. The insecticide again reduced populations by about 90 percent, but fire ants did not reinvade. Even after two years, fire ant populations were still suppressed 96 to 100 percent by integrating use of insecticide and natural enemies. As fire ant populations decreased, beneficial fauna returned.
Releasing natural enemies
Natural enemies are being established at widely separated locations throughout the South. These natural enemies will reproduce and spread on their own. Decapitating flies can spread at the rate of about 10 miles a year. Fire ant disease spreads much more slowly.
Integration of biological control with traditional insecticide should provide sustained reduction of fire ant populations without multiple insecticide applications. It can restore the natural ecological balance that was lost when fire ants invaded and killed native wildlife.
The bottom line
Everyone will benefit: agricultural and lifestock producers, schools, businesses, military, and especially the natural environment.
Areawide suppression using baits and biological control of fire ants is expected to save more than $4.6 billion a year in fire ant damage.