Native Ant Responses to Solenopsis invicta Buren Reduction Using Broadcast Baits
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A pilot study was conducted to investigate the impact of Solenopsis invicta management with an insect growth regulator bait (s-methoprene) on native ant species and to determine the responses of these species to S. invicta reduction. This invasive species alters the diversity and structure of different trophic levels of arthropod assemblages. Despite advances in S. invicta management using biological control agents, poison baits remain as the primary tool for effective fire ant management. However, the effect of these products on native ants is relatively unknown. Understanding these effects is critical to the development of S. invicta management strategies that include conservation of native ants. Native ants compete with S. invicta to some degree and can bolster efforts to release and establish exotic biological control agents to more effectively manage S. invicta. The study was carried out in Mumford, TX. Two treatments were used: a bait treatment that reduced S. invicta densities and a control. The treatments were randomly assigned to 1.33-ha blocks, replicated four times, and periodically inspected using complementary sampling techniques (pitfall traps, baited vials, manual collections, and nest surveys). Sixteen ant species were found among the two treatments. After S. invicta reduction, significant increases in densities of several other ant species were observed. Species within the assemblage shifted from the dominance by S. invicta to the dominance of the native pyramid ant, Dorymyrmex flavus McCook, which showed the most significant increase in bait treated blocks and was found to persist at densities significantly higher than the control for >2 yr after the last bait treatment. A temporary change in diversity was observed, indicating that use of a poison bait for S. invicta management benefited numerous resident species in the ant assemblage.
author list (cited authors)
Calixto, A. A., Harris, M. K., Knutson, A., & Barr, C. L.