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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #170172

Title: EFFECTS OF FIRE ANTS ON PEANUT PLANTS

Author
item NELSON, ROGER
item RICE, STANLEY
item Vogt, James

Submitted to: Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2004
Publication Date: 9/14/2004
Citation: Nelson, R. E., Rice, S., and Vogt, J. T. 2004. Effects of Fire Ants on Peanut Plants. Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings. p 65.

Interpretive Summary: An experiment was conducted in Oklahoma to determine the potential for imported fire ants to damage peanut seeds. Ants readily fed on seeds, and damage beyond 20% prevented seed germination and growth. Damage between 0 and 20% severely limited plant growth, especially root growth. The results of this work will help farmers understand potential stand loss due to imported fire ants and stresses the importance of proper planting depth to reduce exposure of peanut seeds to foraging ants.

Technical Abstract: Peanuts are a major crop in the area invaded by fire ants (Solenopsis invicta Buren), including Oklahoma, where this study was conducted. Although fire ants can have a positive effect on crop plants (by eating herbivorous insects), their effects on peanuts have been shown to be negative: peanut plants in a field from which ants were excluded grew almost twice as much (aboveground dry weight) as plants exposed to ants. We expect that much of this effect is due to ant damage to peanut seeds soon after planting. In this study, peanut seeds were exposed to fire ants, and the percent damage to each seed calculated. The seeds were then planted in potting soil and grown in a laboratory, and plant weights determined after two weeks. Damage beyond 20% prevented growth. Damage between 0 and 20% had a severe effect on growth, especially on root growth. We conclude that even slight damage by fire ants can reduce peanut productivity.