Induced Effects on Red Imported Fire Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Forager Size Ratios by Pseudacteon spp. (Diptera: Phoridae): Implications on Bait Size Selection
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Red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, are adversely affected by phorid flies in the genus Pseudacteon by instigating defensive behaviors in their hosts, and in turn reducing the efficiency of S. invicta foraging. Multiple Pseudacteon species have been released in Texas, and research has been focused on the establishment and spread of these introduced biological control agents. Field experiments were conducted to determine bait particle size selection of S. invicta when exposed to phorid populations. Four different particle sizes of two candidate baits were offered to foragers (one provided by a pesticide manufacturer, and a laboratory-created bait). Foragers selectively were attracted to, and removed more 1-1.4-mm particles than any other bait size. The industry-provided bait is primarily made of particles in the 1.4-2.0 mm size, larger than what was selected by the ants in this study. While there was a preference for foragers to be attracted to and rest on the industry-provided blank bait, S. invicta removed more of the laboratory-created bait from the test vials. There was an abundance of workers with head widths ranging from 0.5-0.75 mm collected from baits. This was dissimilar from a previous study wherein phorid flies were not active and in which large workers were collected in higher abundance at the site. This implies that phorid fly activity caused a shift for red imported fire ant colonies to have fewer large foragers.
author list (cited authors)
Reed, J. J., Puckett, R. T., & Gold, R. E.