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Fire Ants: A Look at New and Old Approaches to ControlBy Sean Adams
January 30, 1997
An experimental insect growth regulator (IGR) reduced fire ant field populations by up to 79 percent after six weeks—making it a prime candidate for controlling the pest.
The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), a major pest from South America, is now established on 275 million acres in 11 southern states and Puerto Rico.
The IGR teflubenzuron blocks the ant’s ability to make chitin, the tough material that forms the ant’s outer shell. In field tests, fire ants eating bait containing teflubenzuron were reduced by up to 86 percent after 13 weeks and up to 91 percent after 17 weeks. After four weeks, colonies had no brood (immature offspring). The highest teflubenzuron level used in the study was 0.045 percent—22 times lower than levels of commercially available baits. Other studies at the same ARS lab found that:
Scientific contact: David F. Williams (teflubenzuron and boric acid), Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Agricultural Research Service, USDA,Gainesville, FL, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; and Albert H. Undeen (bacteria), USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology Research, Gainesville, Florida, phone (352) 374-5903