Food preference and foraging activity of ants : recommendations for field applications of low-toxicity baits

Nyamukondiwa, Casper ; Addison, Pia (2014-04-10)

CITATION: Nyamukondiwa, C. & Addison, P. 2014. Food preference and foraging activity of ants: recommendations for field applications of low-toxicity baits. Journal of Insect Science, 14(48):1-13, doi:10.1673/031.014.48.

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Control of ants using baits of low toxicity cannot be effective without knowledge of bait distribution patterns and bait station densities, which are determined by ants’ foraging activities. Furthermore, the success of toxic baits also depends upon attractiveness of bait carriers. Here, we assessed ground and vine foraging activity and food preferences for the three ant species (Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), Anoplolepis custodiens (F. Smith) and Crematogaster peringueyi Emery) under field conditions. We found that L. humile’s vineyard foraging activity was high and that movement of ant bait by C. peringueyi and A. custodiens in the vineyard was relatively low. Consequently, more bait stations need to be dispensed for more effective control of C. peringueyi and A. custodiens than for L. humile. Different bait densities are discussed for the various ant species. Food preference trials indicated that vineyard foraging ants preferred wet bait attractants over dry ones, making liquids the most ideal carriers for baiting these ants. Linepithema humile was attracted to 25% sugar water, while C. peringueyi was attracted to both 25% sugar water and honey. Anoplolepis custodiens was attracted to tuna but was also attracted to 25% sugar water. Thus, future bait formulations should be tailor made to suit these specific food requirements if baits are to be successful in ant pest management.

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