ATTRACTIVENESS AND EFFECTIVENESS OF AN ARTIFICIAL DIET FED TO HYBRID IMPORTED FIRE ANTS, SOLENOPSIS INVICTA × RICHTERI (HYMENOPTERA: FORMICIDAE)

James T. Vogt

Abstract


Attractiveness of freeze-dried and reconstituted entomophage diet to hybrid fire ants (Solenopsis invicta × richteri) was investigated in choice tests using freeze-killed, crushed cricket (Acheta domestica L.) as a standard. Worker ants were strongly attracted to both crickets and reconstituted diet. Foragers collected approx. 27 times more reconstituted diet than freeze-dried diet, and collected statistically equivalent amounts of artificial diet and crickets (36.0 ± 7.0 and 26.0 ± 0.3 mg/h, respectively). Even though workers were strongly attracted to the artificial diet, all measures of colony growth (mean mass of brood, workers, and queen) were at least 30% lower in colonies fed sugar water + artificial diet than in colonies fed sugar water + crickets or sugar water + artificial diet + crickets. While this diet may have some utility as a bait for monitoring fire ants in the field, it offers no advantage over a standard diet of crickets and sugar water for rearing fire ants in the laboratory.

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