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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #348384

Research Project: Prevention of Arthropod Bites

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: Verification of Argentine ant defensive compounds and their behavioral effects on heterospecific competitors and conspecific nestmates

item WELZELL, KEVIN - University Of California
item LEE, SHAO-HUNG - University Of California
item Chauhan, Kamlesh
item DOSSEY, AARON - All Things Bugs, Llc
item CHOE, DONG-HWAN - University Of California

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/21/2017
Publication Date: 1/20/2018
Citation: Welzell, K.F., Lee, S., Chauhan, K.R., Dossey, A.T., Choe, D. 2018. Verification of Argentine ant defensive compounds and their behavioral effects on heterospecific competitors and conspecific nestmates. Scientific Reports. 8:1477.

Interpretive Summary: Native insects appear to play a key role in limiting the expansion of invasive species, acting as a form of resistance. However, invasive insect can use their natural defences to establish control. Here, we describe how the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), one of the world’s most successful invasive insects, uses a powerful chemical it produces to control native carpenter ants. The information is useful to control invasive species and protecting endanger species as well as understanding use of insect chemicals as novel tool as biopesticides, and will be used by scientists and industry.

Technical Abstract: The invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) has become established worldwide in regions with Mediterranean or subtropical climates. The species typically disrupts the balance of natural ecosystems by competitively displacing some native ant species via strong exploitation and interference competition. Here we report that Argentine ants utilize glandular secretions for inter and intra-specific communications during aggressive interactions with a heterospecific competitor, California harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus). Chemical analyses indicated that Argentine ants deploy glandular secretions containing two major volatile iridoids, dolichodial and iridomyrmecin, on the competitor’s cuticular surface during aggressive interactions. Bioassays indicated that the glandular secretions function as a defensive allomone, causing high levels of irritation in the heterospecific. The current study suggests that invasive Argentine ants’ superior exploitative and interference competition may rely on the species’ effective semiochemical parsimony.