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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #225736

Title: Effect of Surfactants on Red Imported Fire Ants

item Chen, Jian
item Jin, Xixuan

Submitted to: Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/4/2008
Publication Date: 6/4/2008
Citation: Chen, J., Jin, X. Effect of Surfactants on Red Imported Fire Ants. Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings. 2008

Interpretive Summary: Contact insecticides are frequently used in the red imported fire ant management. Surfactants which include soap and detergent are commonly used in formulating contact insecticide products to deliver desired physical and chemical properties. Surfactants alone were found to quickly immobilize fire ants. This rapid immobilization effect may prove to be useful in some formulations of contact insecticides, particularly the mound drench products. Surfactants alone may also be useful in the dipping treatment used in fire ant quarantine areas, which would significantly reduce the use of synthetic insecticides.

Technical Abstract: Eleven surfactants were evaluated for their immobilizing and killing effects against the red imported fire ant. Reported here are the data on workers. Research on other castes is in progress. Although fire ants can be immobilized in most aqueous surfactant solutions within minutes, they can recover after been submerged in the solution for hours. There was a significant difference in time needed to immobilize and kill the ants among surfactants. Two of the 11 surfactants tested killed all the fire ants within 12 h of immersion. A negative correlation was found between hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB) values of 9 of the non-ionic surfactants and mortality of the fire ant workers. The quick immobilizing effect of surfactants can potentially be used in formulations of mound drench products. Surfactants alone may also be useful in some specific scenarios of fire ant control, such as the dipping treatment in fire ant quarantine, which consequently could reduce the use of synthetic insecticides.