Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/17/2013
Publication Date: 6/14/2013
Citation: Sharma, S., Oi, D.H., Buss, E.A. 2013. Honeydew-producing hemipterans in Florida associated with Nylanderia fulva (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), an invasive crazy ant. Florida Entomologist. 96(2):538-547. Interpretive Summary: Nylanderia fulva is an invasive ant that has been reported in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. It has been called the Caribbean, brown, hairy, and Rasberry [sic] crazy ant, but it now is known officially as the tawny crazy ant (TCA). This invasive ant can develop extremely large populations that can overrun agricultural, natural, and urban landscapes. These ants damage crops, reduce biodiversity and property values, and are a severe nuisance to homeowners and businesses. Scientists from the University of Florida and the USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology report TCA activity associated with 22 honeydew-producing insects on 15 host plants in Florida. Honeydew is an important food source for many ants. In some instances, TCA constructed carton shelters over aphids and scale insects presumably as protective coverings. The study provides a better understanding of the foraging behavior of TCA, which can contribute toward the development of control strategies for this invasive species.
Technical Abstract: Nylanderia fulva (Mayr) (Formicidae) is an invasive pest ant that has been reported in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Workers tend various honeydew producing hemipterans in Florida landscapes and natural areas. We sought to understand the seasonal foraging activities of N. fulva and its relationship with honeydew producing hemipterans. Twenty-two hemipteran species were collected from 15 different plant hosts sampled in Florida from Jul 2010 to Jul 2012. The relative density of hemipterans on 4 plant species [live oak (Quercus virginiana Mill.; Fagales: Fagaceae), holly (Ilex cornuta Lindl.; Aquifoliales: Aquifoliaceae), magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.; Magnoliales: Magnoliaceae), and sugarberry (Celtis laevigata Willd.; Urticales: Ulmaceae)] was compared to the relative density of N. fulva at the base or stem of the selected plants. The number of N. fulva and hemipterans on each plant species was positively correlated from spring through fall. Both N. fulva and hemipteran populations increased from May to Sep and decreased from Oct to Apr. In addition, Cinara juniperivora (Wilson) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) on southern red cedar and Toumeyella liriodendri (Gmelin) (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on magnolia were covered with carton shelters presumably constructed by N. fulva, suggesting that this ant potentially protects certain hemipterans species.