Thursday, 3 August 2006

Use of pheromones in bait stations to control the invasive European fire ant, Myrmica rubra

Nicola R. Gammans, Frank Drummond, Ellie Groden, and Philip Stock. Biological Sciences, University of Maine, 303 Deering hall, Orono, ME 04469

Invasive ants have received considerable attention due to their potential to change their environment e.g. by decreasing biodiversity. The European fire ant, Myrmica rubra was accidentally introduced into the US at the start of the 1900’s from Europe and has become established in various locations in north-eastern states, particularly coastal communities in Maine. M. rubra populations have been expanding at a considerable rate over the last 10 years with new infections becoming increasingly common. They are considered a pest as they are aggressive stingers and frequently invade homes, schools and homeowners gardens and have been shown to have negative effects on native ant species and reptiles. Therefore an integrated pest management system needs to be established for M. rubra control. We tested whether a M. rubra alarm pheromone, a blend of 3-Octanone and 3-Octanol could be used to increase attraction of M. rubra workers to bait stations.


Initial field experiments examined 1). Ant recruitment to sugar baits with and without pheromone blend. 2). Ant recruitment to sugar bait alone compared to sugar bait with different doses of the pheromone blend. 3). Insecticidal bait removal with and without pheromone. Results showed no difference in ant recruitment to sugar baits with and without pheromones. Only one blend was significantly different from the sugar bait alone (P<0.017), although a trend of increased ant recruitment to all sugar baits with pheromones was observed. Approximately 14% more insecticide was removed from pheromone enhanced bait stations (P<0.043). These results demonstrate a trend of increased ant recruitment to bait stations with this ant alarm pheromone, continuing laboratory and field experiments will be conducted this summer for further investigation.


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