Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Statewide survey of Imported Fire Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) populations in Tennessee

item Oliver, Jason
item Vander Meer, Robert - Bob
item Ochieng, Samuel
item Youssef, Nadeer
item Pantaleoni, Eva
item Mrema, Frank
item Vail, Karen
item Parkman, Patrick
item Valles, Steven
item Walker, Huan
item Powell, Steve

Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/8/2008
Publication Date: 4/1/2009
Citation: Oliver, J.B., Vander Meer, R.K., Ochieng, S.A., Youssef, N.N., Pantaleoni, E., Mrema, F.A., Vail, K.M., Parkman, P., Valles, S.M., Huan, W.G., Powell, S. 2009. Statewide survey of Imported Fire Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) populations in Tennessee. Journal of Entomological Science. 44(2):149-157.

Interpretive Summary: Imported fire ants cause over 6 billion dollars in annual control and damage costs in the United States. There are red (Solenopsis inicta), black (Solenopsis richteri) and hybrid (S. invicta ' S. richteri) imported fire ants, in the infested area. The USDA/ARS has been instrumental in the release of self-sustaining biological control agents, which are often species-specific; therefore, it is very important to know what imported fire is present, in order to release the appropriate biological control agent. Scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA, ARS, Gainesville, Florida USA, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Research, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN, and Division of Regulatory Services, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Nashville, TN collaborated to investigate the distribution of the black, red and hybrid imported fire ants in Tennessee. Out of a total of 387 samples processed, 9 (2.3%), 167 (43.2%), and 211 (54.5%) were identified as red, black, or hybrid IFA, respectively. The survey results are being used to direct current and future biological control efforts against imported fire ants in Tennessee.

Technical Abstract: Imported fire ants (Solenopsis spp.) (IFA) now occupy 52 counties (~ 5.4 million hectares) in Tennessee and are continuing their range expansion northward. To better understand the distribution of IFA species in Tennessee, the state was divided into 16.1 ' 16.1 km grids and a single fire ant colony sampled for cuticular hydrocarbon and venom alkaloid analyses within each grid. A total of 387 samples were processed from which 9 (2.3%), 167 (43.2%), and 211 (54.5%) were identified as red (Solenopsis inicta Buren), black (Solenopsis richteri Forel), or hybrid (S. invicta ' S. richteri) IFA, respectively. Red IFA was only found near metropolitan Nashville in Davidson and Williamson Counties and at one site in Decatur County. All samples east of Franklin County were identified as hybrid IFA. Tennessee counties west of Lincoln were predominantly black IFA (86.5%) as opposed to hybrid (13.0%) and red (0.5%) IFA. The exception was Hardin County, which was predominantly hybrid IFA. Counties containing both hybrid and black IFA (all in the middle and western part of the state) included Bedford, Decatur, Franklin, Giles, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, McNairy, Perry, and Wayne. Red IFA samples collected from one Williamson County site were determined to be polygyne and infected with the Solenopsis invicta virus (genotype SINV-1A). This was the first detection of polygyne IFA in Tennessee. The SINV-1A virus was also a new find at the time of detection, but has been previously reported. The survey results are being used to direct current and future biological control efforts against IFA in Tennessee.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page