Location: Biological Control of Pests Research2012 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The imported fire ants are serious pests affecting humans, wildlife, crops, and livestock, as well as a health hazard to humans. The goal of this project will be the development of management tools for a sustainable reduction of imported fire ant populations. To achieve this goal a proactive area-wide program will be implemented to suppress imported fire ant populations and to end the spread of infestations. A regional management program developed with Mississippi State University will include product testing, natural history, ecology, and biological control.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Cultural, biological, and chemical control methods need to be integrated into proactive, regional fire ant management programs. New bait technologies utilizing synthetic chemicals and microbials will be evaluated to identify the most effective treatments for implementation into large scale programs. Native species of ants will be inventoried to compare diversity of native ant species with abundance of imported fire ants either naturally or under different management strategies. Area-wide programs will be implemented through cooperation with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Information will be coordinated with the ARS Information Office and the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
3. Progress Report:
I. Surveys of exotic and native species of ants in midsouthern United States. Numerous surveys and collections of ants were made in the region: Florida: Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (Liberty County (Co.)), Apalachicola National Forest (N.F.). Torreya State Park (Liberty Co.), and Tall Timbers Research Station (Leon Co.); Georgia (GA): Covington (Newton Co.), Gordon (Wilkinson Co.), River Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (Thomas Co.), and the Wade Tract (Thomas Co.); Mississippi: Upper Sardis WMA (Lafayette Co.), Delta National Forest (N.F.) (Sharkey Co.), John Kyle State Park (St. Pk) (Panola Co.), Lefleur's Bluff St. Pk. (Hinds Co.), Lake Lincoln St. Pk. (Lincoln Co.), Percy Quin St. Pk. (Pike Co.), Tombigbee N.F. (Winston Co.), Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (Noxubee, Oktibbeha, & Winston Cos.), DeSoto N.F. (Forrest Co.), Holly Springs N.F. (Benton Co.), Jackson Sandhill Preserve (George Co.), Natchez Trace Parkway (Choctaw, Pontotoc, & Lee Counties), and various Gulf Coast localities (Jackson, Harrison, and Hancock Cos.); Tennessee: Big Hill Pond St. Pk. (McNairy Co.), Carroll Cabin Barrens (Decatur Co.), Cedars of Lebanon St. Pk. (Wilson Co.), Natchez Trace Parkway (Wayne and Lewis Cos.), Tennessee Welcome Center (Giles Co.), and the Wolf River WMA. (Fayette Co); and Texas: Big Thicket National Preserve (Hardin, Liberty, and Tyler Counties), Sandyland Preserve (Hardin Co.). Several key donations and exchanges of ants from western states, Louisiana and Tennessee have increased the holdings of the Mississippi Entomological Museum (MEM) collection. Numerous specimens collected during the year were pinned, labeled, identified, and added to the collection. The donation of ants in vials of alcohol was sorted and identified. Identifications of ants were made for 10 researchers. Current projects include publishing up to date lists of the ants of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Big Thicket National Preserve, TX; examining trap samples from Kentucky to document ants of that state; a collaborative project studying the use of artificial wooden nests in the field in various southeastern forested sites to study ant nest densities, colony structure, spatial partitioning, and efficacy of the artificial nest design; a collaborative project studying colony structure, environmental factors limiting nesting sites, and spatial partitioning of cavity dwelling ant species in nuts of eastern U.S. forest floors; a study of the worldwide distribution of Strumigenys margaritae; 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 GA, MS, TN, and TX were discovered. Discoveries of two new species of Nylanderia and three new species of Polyergus collected by MEM staff have been described and will be included in upcoming revisions of these groups. As a result of collaborative work with researchers from LSU, a new exotic dacetine ant, Strumigenys epinotalis, was discovered for the U.S. and the novel use of modified arboreal pitfall traps used to collect them was described. The spread of the exotic stinging ant Gnamptogenys triangularis from South America to the southern U.S. was studied and results were published. The worldwide geographic spread of the exotic S. silvestrii was documented and a publication is in press. Collections of fire ants and hairy crazy ants were made for DNA studies by researchers from Mississippi State University (MSU). Surveys along the MS gulf coast have shown that the hairy crazy ant (Nylanderia sp. near pubens) has extended its distribution to new localities in the region. The exotic stinging ant Pseudomyrmex gracilis was discovered to occur in southern Alabama for the first time (Mobile Co.), and this species has now been found in four southern counties in MS (Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, and Pearl River). Camponotus tortuganus, a structural pest species of carpenter ant previously known only from southern FL, was discovered in southern MS. The website "Ants of the Southeastern United States" was revised to update recent nomenclatorial changes in the Amblyoponinae, Myrmicinae (Dacetini), and Ponerinae groups. Several new faunal studies were added to the site, numerous species pages were updated, and keys were updated to reflect nomenclatorial changes.