Investigation of an Invasive Ant Species: Nylanderia fulva Colony Extraction, Management, Diet Preference, Fecundity, and Mechanical Vector Potential
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Invasive species often threaten biodiversity and environmental processes in their introduced range by extirpating native species due to competition for resources. Nylanderia fulva (formerly N. (=Paratrechina) sp. nr. pubens) is an ecologically dominant and economically important invasive species in the United States. This dissertation addresses aspects of the biology, behavior, management, and collection techniques for N. fulva. Specifically, topics investigated include a modified drip technique for extracting ants from their substrate, the effectiveness of a broadcast ant bait as a stand-alone treatment, the foraging preference and peak activity of workers, the reproductive potential of queens, and the ability of this species to translocate pathogenic microorganisms. The primary goal of these works was to better understand the biological idiosyncrasies of this species that may ultimately lead to the mitigation N. fulva populations. A modified drip technique was developed to quickly and efficiently extract N. fulva from their nesting substrates. Ants and their associated substrates were collected in 18.9 L buckets lined with talcum powder and transported to the laboratory. Substrates were weighted down and a cardboard tower was provided for the immigration of ants as they were forced out of substrates with a slow influx of water. Three applications of Advance Carpenter Ant Bait (ACAB) were applied to a N. fulva population in East Columbia, TX. A series of GIS interpolated maps depict achieved management and subsequent rebound of N. fulva populations. As great as 77% population reduction was achieved by 1 week post treatment, but N. fulva populations rebounded within 3-4 weeks. As a stand-alone treatment, this bait did not provide adequate ant management in treatment plots. Diet preference experiments were performed using artificial diets and food lures. These results of these trials indicated that N. fulva preferred the most carbohydrate rich diet offered through all seasons and that mint apple jelly or hot dog slices were the favored food lures. Diel foraging behavior was observed when temperatures were between 9.95 and 37.26 degrees C. Peak foraging activity occurred at 28.24 +/- 3.12 degrees C. A laboratory investigation of N. fulva suggested that as the number of queens increased, individual queen fecundity increased. This phenomenon is a novel observation among ants and suggests an alternative mechanism for intracolony dominance. Hexagyne colony fecundity of 0.25 +/- 0.12 eggs/queen/hr was the maximum fecundity observed. Results of laboratory experiments showed that N. fulva were capable of transferring E. coli up to 4.5 m in 6 hrs after acquisition from a contaminated source. Pyrosequencing of ectomicrobial assemblages revealed a suite of 518 bacteria and 135 fungi species associated with N. fulva, many of which are known pathogens of plants and animals, including humans. These results suggested that N. fulva should be regarded as both a medically and agriculturally important species.
Nylanderia sp. nr. pubens
tawny crazy ant
Rasberry crazy ant
McDonald, Danny 1983- (2012). Investigation of an Invasive Ant Species: Nylanderia fulva Colony Extraction, Management, Diet Preference, Fecundity, and Mechanical Vector Potential. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from