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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research

Title: Mitigating the allergic effects of fire ant envenomation with biologically-based population reduction

item Porter, Sanford
item Oi, David
item Valles, Steven
item Vander Meer, Robert - Bob

Submitted to: Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/16/2013
Publication Date: 8/1/2013
Citation: Porter, S.D., Oi, D.H., Valles, S.M., Vander Meer, R.K. 2013. Mitigating the allergic effects of fire ant envenomation with biologically-based population reduction. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 13:372-378.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The purpose of this review is to describe current efforts to use biological control agents to reduce fire ant population levels, thus, ultimately reducing the number of human sting and allergic reaction incidents. Climate change and worldwide fire ant expansion will increase the frequency of human encounters and allergenic events putting additional pressure on the public health sector. Six species of fire ant decapitating flies are now established in the United States. The microsporidium Kneallhazia solenopsae is well established and new fire ant hosts have been identified. The fire ant virus SINV-3 shows good potential for use as an environmentally friendly biopesticide because of its virulence and host-specificity. During separate founding events in the United States, Australia, mainland China, and Taiwan, fire ants native to South America escaped their native pathogens and parasites. Consequently, fire ant populations in these introduced regions pose a serious public health threat to the human populations by envenomation and subsequent allergic reactions. Specific, self-sustaining biological control agents have been discovered, studied, and released into fire ant populations in the United States in an effort to re-establish an ecological/competitive balance, resulting in reduced fire ant densities and human exposure.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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