Possible Remedies

There are many insecticides that control fire ants. Baits are advantageous because it is not necessary to find the mounds; ants carry the bait back to their nests. Most fire ant baits consist of corncob grits coated with soybean oil as an attractant. Typically, a toxicant or insect growth regulator is dissolved in the oil. However, none of these solutions are permanent. Efforts are now under way to bring into the United States some of the fire ant parasites and predators from South America. Decapitating flies (Phoridae) are one promising predator now being released in Florida and elsewhere. These flies lay their eggs on fire ants. The grub that hatches invades the ant's head, where it consumes its brain. Ultimately the ant's head falls off and a new fly emerges. Although these flies parasitize only a small percentage of ants, they do interfere with the ant's foraging behavior and may make fire ants less competitive with other ants. Other potential biocontrol agents include protozoal parasites, soil fungus, and even parasitic ants from South

America. Ultimately a broad approach using chemicals and biological agents will best manage this invasive species.

See Also the Following Articles

Ants • Introduced Insects • Regulatory Entomology • Venom

Further Reading

Greenberg, L., Fletcher, D. J. C., and Vinson, S. B. (1985) Differences in worker size and mound distribution in monogynous and polygynous colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren. J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 58, 9-18.

Porter, S. D. (2000). Host specificity and risk assessment of releasing the decapitating fly Pseudacteon curvatus as a classical biocontrol agent for imported fire ants. Biol. Control 19, 35-47.

Trager, J. C. (1991). A revision of the fire ants, Solenopsis geminata group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). J. N.Y. Entomol. Soc. 99, 141-198.

Tschinkel, W. R. (1998). The reproductive biology of fire ant societies. Bioscience 48, 593-605.

Vander Meer, R. K. (1996). Potential role of pheromones in fire ant control. In "Pest Management in the Subtropics: Integrated Pest Management: A Florida Perspective" (D. Rosen, F. D. Bennett, and J. L. Capinera, eds.), pp. 223-232. Intercept Ltd., Andover, U.K.

Vargo, E. L., and Hulsey, C. D. (2000). Multiple glandular origins of queen pheromones in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. J. Insect Physiol. 46, 1151-1159.

Vinson, S. B. (1997). Invasion of the red imported fire ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Spread, biology, and impact. Am. Entomol. 43, 23-39.

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