Location: Biological Control of Pests Research2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The goals of this project are: 1) to document distributions and interactions of imported fire ants and other invasive species of ants co-existing with native species of ants in different habitats, 2) to manage landscapes for increasing diversity of native species and provide competition to imported fire ants and other invasive species, and 3) to develop electronic resources on native and exotic species of ants for research, extension, industry, and the private sector. Accomplishment of these goals will provide measurements of the impact of imported fire ants and other invasive species on the native species in public lands. Experimental testing of different management strategies of habitats can be effective for selecting the best strategy for decreasing abundance of imported fire ants and increasing diversity of native species across an entire landscape. The application of information technology by development of web sites on ants and habitat management will facilitate outreach, information sharing, and support of other research and management projects.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Surveys of diversity and abundance of native and exotic ants will be conducted in eight National Forests and Wildlife Refuges as well as state parks and preserves in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Traps for flying reproductive of ants will be employed in coastal areas near ports of entry for detecting new introductions. Experiments with different management strategies, e.g., mowing regime, burning, and addition of native seeds, will be made on the Natchez Trace National Parkway. Management strategies will be combined with removal of important fire ants in some treatments for measuring the capacity for re-invasion of management areas. A web site on ants of the southeastern United States will be further developed to provide photographs and information on taxonomy, biology, distribution, and economic importance with links to other pages. Information will be coordinated with the ARS Information Office and the Mississippi State University Extension Service
3. Progress Report:
Numerous surveys and collections of ants were made in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Current projects include publishing up to date lists of the Ants of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Big Thicket National Park, TX; examining trap samples from Kentucky to document ants of that state; a collaborative project documenting the ants of Georgia; collaborative project to describe and provide identification resources for male dacetine ants; study of the Odontomachus species of the U.S., which will include identification tools, geographic records, photos, descriptions and other information; monitoring the region for new introductions of alien ants and documenting the spread of known alien species; collaborative project which includes describing new species of Forelius from the southeast U.S.; development of resources for identification of alate ants, especially alien species; development of identification resources for the Solenopsis molesta group in the southeast; and continued monitoring for the hairy crazy ant along the Gulf Coast. As a result of recent surveys, several new state records in AL, GA, MS, and SC, were discovered. Discoveries of three new species of Brachymyrmex and two new species of Forelius collected by Mississippi Entomological Museum staff are being described and will be included in upcoming revisions of these groups. The invasive Asian needle ant, (Pachycondyla chinensis), was discovered in southern MS; the introduced stinging Pseudomyrmex gracilis was discovered in SC for the first time and new records of this species were found in AL and MS; the introduced pest ant, (Hypoponera punctatissima), was found in AL, LA and MS. The worldwide geographic spread of the exotic Strumigenys margaritae was documented and a publication was produced. Surveys along the MS gulf coast have shown that the hairy crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva) continues to expand its distribution and is now known to occur in three counties within the state. A five-year experiment was completed by the cooperator that evaluated the effect of three different woody vegetation removal management strategies had on the ant communities of small Black Belt Prairie remnants in north Mississippi. All identifications are added and information updated on the website "Ants of the Southeastern United States" with new photos added, species pages updated, an ant blog was started, and other updates were done. The website is part of the cooperator's project with insects and is approved and supported by ARS National Program Leader. Additionally, involvement with the web site “AntWeb” has been increased. All pages on southeastern ants have been updated. Recently a new Statement of Work was added to state the latest approved cooperative involvement and agreement.