Fighting Fire with Fire: Invasion and Biocontrol of the Red Imported Fire Ant

This topic submitted by Caleb Slemmons ( at 10:50 AM on 3/25/04.

A swim in a tropical stream, Corcovado Natl Park.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University

The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren), originally a native of South America, has now been introduced outside its range and spread throughout the Southern United States, as well as parts of Australia, Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands and the Bahamian archipelago. Fire ants can cause a whole host of problems for native insect and plant communities. They also have deleterious effects on agriculture and even have the potential to seriously affect human health. Attempts at chemical control have largely faltered. More recently an attempt to use biocontrol on the red imported fire ant has been promulgated. Early indications are that a parasitic fly may prove to be the preferred option for biocontrol. Field releases began in Florida in the spring of 2000.


I. History of S. invicta Invasion

II. Extent of Invasion

III. Ecology of S. invicta

III. Effects
a. natural systems
b. agriculture
c. human health

IV. Control of S. invicta
a. chemical
- hormones/growth regulators
b. biocontrol

V. Conclusions

Initial Reference List:

Allen, C. R., R. S. Lutz, S. Demarais. 1995. Red imported fire ant impacts on northern bobwhite
populations. Ecological Applications 5(3): 632-638.

Deyrup, M. A. 1994. Biogeographical survey of the ants of the island of San Salvador, Bahamas.
Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium on the Natural History of the Bahamas. pp. 21-28, San
Salvador, Bahamas.

Deyrup, M. A. 1998. Composition of the ants fauna of three Bahamian islands. Proceedings of the
Seventh Symposium on the Natural History of the Bahamas. pp. 23-31, San Salvador, Bahamas.

Morrison, L. W. 1998. A review of Bahamian ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
biogeography. Journal of Biogeography 25: 561-571.

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

Porter, S. D., D. A. Savignano. 1990. Invasion of polygyne fire ants decimates native ants and
disrupts arthropod community. Ecology 71(6): 2095-2106.

Stiles, J. H., R. H. Jones. 2001. Top-down control by the red imported fire ant(Solenopsis
invicta). Am. Midl. Nat. 146: 171-185.

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