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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #203577

Title: Three-dimensional sampling method for characterizing ant mounds

item Vogt, James

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/21/2007
Publication Date: 9/1/2007
Citation: Vogt, J.T. Three-dimensional sampling method for characterizing ant mounds. Florida Entomologist 90: 553-558. 2007.

Interpretive Summary: Understanding fire ant mound size, shape, and orientation are key to developing automated detection methods for locating mounds in remotely sensed images. A new method was devised to characterize fire ant mound shape in the field, using a portable, three-dimensional laser scanner. Automated mound detection using mound shape characteristics will greatly reduce the time required to count fire ant colonies in aerial images, and the methods for 3D analysis described in the study will be of broad interest to researchers interested in ant nest structure and function.

Technical Abstract: A field-portable 3D laser scanner was employed as a means of digitizing the surface of fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) mounds for analysis of shape and orientation in Mississippi and Oklahoma. Estimates of above-ground mound volume obtained through manual measurements of mound length, width, and height were higher than estimates obtained by summing the area underneath interpolated mound surfaces, and were subject to larger error. The major axis of mounds was oriented in a north-south direction, and mounds were typically elliptical in shape. The apex of the mounds was offset to the northeast of the mean mound center by an average of 45.8 ± 5.1 mm. Advantages of the methodology employed in the study and possible explanations for the predictable shape of fire ant mounds relating to their function as solar collectors are discussed.