Occurrence of Camponotus pennsylvanicus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Trees Previously Infested with Enaphalodes rufulus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas

R. M. Verble, F. M. Stephen

Abstract


Black carpenter ants, Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer), are nearly ubiquitous in North American forests. These ants are documented as predators of red oak borer, Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman), a native longhorn beetle that experienced an unprecedented population increase synonymous with an oak decline event in the oak hickory forests of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas from the late 1990s until 2005. We examined previous red oak borer emergence holes, tree crown conditions, and site aspects in 13 pre-established vegetation monitoring plots and correlated these forest and tree attributes with the presence or absence of black carpenter ants. At each site, all red oaks >10 cm diameter at breast height were baited for black carpenter ants with a mixture of tuna and honey. Black carpenter ants were more frequently found on trees with low levels of previous red oak borer infestation versus those trees with previously high infestations. These data suggest a potential role for black carpenter ants in the dynamics of red oak borer populations. Distribution of black carpenter ants in red oaks prior to and during the outbreak is unknown. Future investigations should be directed at efforts to understand whether black carpenter ants simply prefer different tree and site attributes than red oak borer or if, via predation, these ants are acting as agents of red oak borer control.

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