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Floods and fire ants, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): The Australian experience

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Wylie, F. R., McKinney, M., McLennan, A. and McNaught, M. K. (2024) Floods and fire ants, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): The Australian experience. Austral Entomology , aen.12692. ISSN 2052-174X2052-1758


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/aen.12692


The rafting behaviour of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, in response to flooding events is well documented, although studies generally have focussed on the mechanisms of raft assembly and the behaviour of the raft’s occupants. Flooding as a means of dispersal of S. invicta is frequently mentioned in the literature, although there are few data on the distances travelled or how effective it is compared to natural flight. In Australia, S. invicta is a priority invasive species with a national eradication program operating for 23 years, focussed on the population in southeast Queensland, which currently encompasses more than 700 000 ha. Flooding presents a risk to the success of the program through extending the infestation area or recolonising successfully treated areas. We used the program’s extensive spatiotemporal dataset of known fire ant colony locations to assess the effects of two significant flood events on the dispersal or displacement of S. invicta in Queensland. Results indicated that flooding did not spread S. invicta beyond the known boundaries of infestation but contributed to localised spread, particularly for sites with known polygyne infestations. This situation could change if the ant spreads to new river catchments. A novel method developed to assess the risk of S. invicta dispersal through flooding is presented, alongside program actions that can be applied to mitigate this risk.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:eradication, flooding, invasive ant management, red imported fire ant, spread risk
Subjects:Science > Entomology
Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Animal control and ecology
Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Impact assessment
Science > Invasive Species > Modelling > Animal
Science > Zoology > Invertebrates > Insects
Plant pests and diseases > Pest control and treatment of diseases. Plant protection
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia > Queensland
Live Archive:06 Jun 2024 04:22
Last Modified:21 Jun 2024 03:11

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