1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Study the feasibility of the biological control of the Imported Fire Ants, Solenopsis invicta and S. richteri (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), in the USA.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Potential fire ant biocontrol agents will be identified through exploration in Argentina. Living colonies of fire ants and their parasites, predators, and pathogens will be shipped to the quarantine facilities at Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research Unit to be used in studies on the biology, specificity, and efficacy of the biocontrol agents. In addition, any other information needed to obtain permission to release the target biocontrol agent(s) will be obtained.
3. Progress Report:
This research directly supports and corresponds to in-house project Objective 2: Expand current biocontrol efforts by discovering and developing new parasites and pathogens; improving mass culture and field release systems; and defining host specificity of natural enemies. After 3.5 years of inability to export biological materials from Argentina, ARS was able to develop an SCA with the new foundation, FUEDEI, which recently developed the mechanisms needed to permit genetic materials to be exported. We were the first ARS Unit to develop an NFCA with FUEDEI to export biocontrol samples for fire ant control. We received a first shipment in May 2013, and we expect to accelerate shipment of materials in due course.