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ARS Home » Office of International Research Programs » OBCL - FueDEI

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Research to better manage invasive ants. Several prominent invasive ant species in the USA, such as the black imported fire ant and Argentine ant, occur naturally in Argentina. The behavior of ants that become invaders can be better understood by studying their interactions with competing species of ants and their natural enemies in both native and invaded regions.  South American fire ants often decrease over a period of several years in a pattern that may be due to disease outbreaks.  Such population collapses are not observed in the USA, where populations of introduced fire ants rarely or never decline.  The lack of natural enemies, such as pathogens, in the invaded area is a likely cause of this pattern.  Exploration in South America by the ARS South American Biological Control Laboratory (FuEDEI) is in progress to discover pathogens that will reduce fire ant populations or reduce their ability to be competitive with native US non-pest ants.