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Title: Mitigating predatory ants promotes establishment of biological control of Arundo by Arundo Scale in the cattle fever tick quarantine zone

item Thomas, Donald
item Showler, Allan
item Perez De Leon, Adalberto - Beto
item Goolsby, John

Submitted to: Journal Subtropical Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/26/2015
Publication Date: 4/9/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Velez-Bonner, A., Osbrink, W.L., Summy, R.K., Thomas, D.B., Showler, A., Perez De Leon, A.A., Goolsby, J. 2015. Mitigating predatory ants promotes establishment of biological control of Arundo by Arundo Scale in the cattle fever tick quarantine zone. Journal Subtropical Plant Science. 65:38-44.

Interpretive Summary: Arundo, also known as giant reed, is native to the Mediterranean coast of Europe and North Africa to south Asia. Arundo is an invasive weed of stream and river habitats of the southwestern U.S. and has spread widely in Texas where it has altered wildlife habitats, created fire hazards, compromised water conservation efforts, affected flood control, reduced visibility for law enforcement officers along the international border with Mexico, and facilitated cattle fever tick invasion into the permanent quarantine zone along the Rio Grande between Del Rio and Brownsville. In 2010 the field release of the arundo scale as a biological control agent of arundo was approved for use in the U.S. The scale feeds on arundo and reduces growth. Arundo scale is released as a mobile crawler. Ant predation was observed to be an impediment of the initial establishment of crawlers at field sites. It was determined that treatment of scale release areas with specific ant baits has reduced ant predation of mobile crawlers allowing the scale to become established to control arundo and the problems it causes.

Technical Abstract: Ant collection, identification, and control experiments were conducted to improve the establishment of the arundo scale, Rhizaspidiotus donacis, a biological control agent of Arundo donax, an invasive weed in the riparian habitats along the Rio Grande in Texas. Observational studies indicated R. donacis immatures are preyed upon by a variety of predator insects, especially ants. A survey of the principal ant species was made at sites along the Rio Grande with Arundo donax to help direct biological control strategies. We conclude that uses of ant baits can effectively control the common ant species found in these habitats and improve the establishment of R. donacis.