Location: Crop Production and ProtectionTitle: Fire ants (Solenopsis spp.)and their natural enemies in southern South America Author
Submitted to: Psyche
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/14/2011
Publication Date: 2/8/2012
Citation: Briano, J., Calcaterra, L., Varone, L. 2012. Fire ants (Solenopsis spp.)and their natural enemies in southern South America. Psyche. DOI: 10.1155/2012/198084. Interpretive Summary: The project on biological control of the imported fire ants, sponsored and supervised by the ARS in Gainesville, FL, was established at the ARS-South American Biological Control Laboratory in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1987. Since then a complex of fire ants' natural enemies in southern South America was evaluated as potential agents to be introduced into the United States. The biology, occurrence, abundance, distribution, detrimental effect, field persistence, specificity, and phenology of fire ant diseases and parasites is reported and discussed. Many of these pioneering studies have served to encourage further investigations and to advance in the implementation of the biological control of the imported fire ant in the U.S.
Technical Abstract: We review the fire ant research conducted by the ARS-South American Biological Control Laboratory (SABCL) since 1987 to find a complex of natural enemies in southern South America and evaluate their specificity and suitability for field release as self-sustaining biological control agents. We also include those studies conducted by the ARS-Center for Medical, Agriculture, and Veterinary Entomology in the United States with the SABCL collaboration. Ecological and biological information is reported on local fire ants and their microsporidia, nematodes, viruses, phorid flies, eucharitid wasps, strepsiptera, and parasitic ants. Their biology, abundance, distribution, detrimental effect, field persistence, specificity, and phenology are discussed. We conclude that the objectives of the ARS program in South America are being achieved and that the pioneering studies have served to encourage further investigations in the United States and other countries, and advanced the implementation of biological control programs to decrease imported fire ant densities and damage. Still, several promising organisms should be further investigated for eventual field release in the near future.