Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/25/2003
Publication Date: 12/20/2003
Citation: VOGT, J.T. Attractiveness and effectiveness of an artificial diet fed to Solenopsis invicta X richteri (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), the hyrid imported fire ant. Florida Entomologist 86: 456-459. 2004.
Interpretive Summary: Imported fire ants have been reared and studied in the laboratory since the 1930s in an effort to find new ways to effectively reduce their numbers. Researchers have not been able to rear fire ant colonies using artificial diets, unless those diets contained insects. An artificial diet, developed by ARS scientists and used to successfully rear beneficial green lacewings, was tested as a possible laboratory diet for imported fire ants. Fire ants were highly attracted to the diet in its reconstituted form. Even diet that had been freeze-dried, commercially packaged and stored for about 3 years was highly attractive to the ants. Laboratory colonies reared on the artificial diet grew less than colonies fed their standard food of freeze-killed crickets, and colonies fed crickets + artificial diet + sugar water grew at the same rate as colonies fed crickets + sugar water. The artificial diet does not appear to be a suitable medium for rearing laboratory fire ant colonies but may be useful as a bait for monitoring fire ants and other.
Technical Abstract: Attractiveness of freeze-dried and reconstituted entomophage diet to hybrid fire ants (Solenopsis invicta X richteri) was investigated in choice tests using freeze-killed, crushed cricket (Acheta domestica L.) as a standard. Worker ants were strongly attracted to both crickets and reconstituted diet. Foragers collected approx. 27 times more reconstituted diet than freeze-dried diet, and collected statistically equivalent amounts of artificial diet and crickets (36.0 " 7.0 and 26.0 " 0.3 mg / h, respectively). Even though workers were strongly attracted to the artificial diet, all measures of colony growth (mean mass of brood, workers, and queen) were at least 30% lower in colonies fed sugar water + artificial diet than in colonies fed sugar water + crickets or sugar water + artificial diet + crickets. While this diet may have some utility as a bait for monitoring fire ants in the field, it offers no advantage over a standard diet of crickets and sugar water for rearing fire ants in the laboratory.