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Chapter 30 - Fire ant IPM

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2010

Edward B. Radcliffe
University of Minnesota
William D. Hutchison
University of Minnesota
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Imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta, S. richteri and their hybrid) are notorious invasive ants from South America that continue to plague the southern USA since their inadvertent introductions prior to the mid-1930s. They now infest over 129.5 million hectares in the USA. The red imported fire ant (S. invicta), commonly referred to as “fire ant,” has continued to spread and is now a worldwide concern with infestations confirmed in Australia, Southeast Asia and Mexico. The painful, burning sensation that is inflicted by the sting of a fire ant is easily the most recognizable hazard to humans. While one sting is painful, it is not uncommon for a person to receive numerous stings simultaneously when ants swarm out of their nest to attack an intruder. This greatly intensifies the pain and can cause panic; thus fear or apprehension of these ants can be present in heavily infested or newly infested areas. In addition, it is conservatively estimated that 1% of stung individuals in the USA are allergic to the venom and at risk for anaphylaxis. Deaths from fire ant stings have been reported and lawsuits have resulted in awards of over $US 1 million.

Besides the costs associated with litigation, the annual economic impact of fire ants in the USA is estimated to be over $US 6500 million across both urban and agricultural sectors. In addition, their dominance in natural ecosystems has reduced biodiversity and harmed wildlife (Wojcik et al., 2001).

Integrated Pest Management
Concepts, Tactics, Strategies and Case Studies
, pp. 390 - 401
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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