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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #139549

Title: Effects of Termperature and Season on Foraging Activity of Red Imported Fire Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Foraging in Oklahoma

item Vogt, James

Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2003
Publication Date: 6/1/2003
Citation: VOGT, J.T., SMITH, W.A., GRANTHAM, R.A., AND WRIGHT, R.E. Effects of Temperature and Season on Foraging Activity of Red Imported Fire Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Oklahoma. Environmental Entomology 32(3): 447-451. 2003.

Interpretive Summary: Broadcast bait products for controlling imported fire ants rely on the ants' foraging activity, since ants must pick up the baits and return them to their colonies for them to work. Like other insect activities, foraging is dependent upon temperature. Oklahoma represents some of the northernmost infestations of imported fire ants in the U.S. A study was conducted to determine relationships between temperature and foraging activity in southern Oklahoma, and predict the best times of year for bait application. Maximum ant activity only occurred during approximately 25% of the year in Oklahoma, as compared to 42-59% of the year in central Florida, where a comparable study was conducted in the 1980s. These data will be used by Extension personnel in Oklahoma to advise clients on the best times of the year to apply bait products against imported fire ants.

Technical Abstract: Temperature and seasonal effects on foraging activity of Solenopsis invicta Buren (red imported fire ant) in Oklahoma were investigated by periodically quantifying the number of ants captured in baited vials for 1 yr. All temperature measurements except ambient at 1 m above soil surface (surface, 2 cm, 15 cm, mound surface, mound 5 cm deep, and mound 10 cm deep) were significant predictors of foraging activity; soil temperature at 15 cm was the best individual predictor, explaining 34% of variability in foraging activity. A combined quadratic model including mound surface temperature and season (weeks) explained 63% of the variability in foraging activity. Comparison with a similar study conducted in Florida revealed differences in the percentage of the year favorable for maximal foraging (~25% in Oklahoma versus ~42-59% in Florida). These data suggest that recommendations for timing of insecticidal bait applications v. S. invicta that apply in more southern portions of the fire ant range may not apply to Oklahoma. Additional data on two other ant species encountered during this study, Monomorium minimum (Buckley) and Forelius pruinosus (Roger), are presented.