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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #282676

Research Project: Biting and Stinging Pests: Ecology and Biologically-base Control

Location: Biological Control of Pests Research

Title: Arthropod prey of imported fire ants (Hymenopter: formicidae) in Mississippi sweetpotato fields

Author
item Rashid, Tahir - Alcorn State University
item Chen, Jian
item Vogt, Jt - Forest Service (FS)
item Mcleod, Paul - University Of Arkansas

Submitted to: Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/18/2012
Publication Date: 1/16/2013
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/61797
Citation: Rashid, T., Chen, J., Vogt, J., McLeod, P. 2013. Arthropod prey of imported fire ants (Hymenopter: formicidae) in Mississippi sweetpotato fields. Insect Science. 20:467-471. doi: 10.0000/1744-7917.12003.

Interpretive Summary: Despite its iconic image as a pest to public health, the red imported fire ant is an important predator on some pest insects of agricultural and medical importance. This study documents the foraging habits of fire ants in sweetpotato fields. It was found that fire ant foragers collected arthropods and plant material; however they did not cause any damage to sweetpotato. Beetles were the most abundant group on which fire ants foraged, which contains various economically important soil insect pests of sweetpotato. Overall, more pest arthropods were collected than beneficial arthropods. Imported fire ants may be useful in managing pest insects on sweetpotato.

Technical Abstract: Imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta (Buren) are generally considered pests. They have also been viewed as beneficial predators feeding on other insect pests of agricultural and medical importance in various agroecosystems. This study documents the foraging habits of fire ants in sweetpotato. Sweetpotato storage roots are attacked by several economically important insects. Fire ant foraging trails connecting outside colonies to a sweetotato field were exposed and foraging ants moving out of the field toward the direction of the colony were collected along with the solid food particles they were carrying. The food material was classified as arthropod or plant origin. The arthropod particles were identified to orders and families. At harvest, fire ant damage to the sweetpotato roots was also determined. Fire ant foragers carried more arthropods than plant material. Coleoptera was the most abundant group, and contains various economically important soil insect pests of sweetpotato. Other major insect groups included the orders Hompotera, Hemiptera, Diptera and Collembola. The quantity of foraged material was affected by the time of collection during the season. Overall, more pest arthropods were collected than beneficial arthropods. No damage to sweetpotato roots could be attributed to fire ant feeding. Imported fire ant foraging may reduce the number of soil insect pests in sweetpotato fields.