Identification, Distribution and Control of an Invasive Pest Ant, Paratrechina sp. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), in Texas
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Invasive species are capable of causing considerable damage to natural ecosystems, agricultures and economies throughout the world. These invasive species must be identified and adequate control measures should be investigated to prevent and reduce the negative effects associated with exotic species. A recent introduction of an exotic ant, Paratrechina sp. nr. pubens, has caused tremendous economic and ecological damage to southern Texas. Morphometric and phylogenetic procedures were used to identify this pest ant, P. sp. nr. pubens, to Southern Texas. The populations in Texas were found to be slightly different but not discriminating from P. pubens populations described in previous literature. Analysis of the distribution and expansion of P. sp. nr. pubens found numerous geographically discrete populations and moderately expanding territories. These expansion rates were determined to be ~20 and ~30 m per mo for a neighborhood and industrial area, respectively. Several laboratory and field control strategies were implemented for control of this intensely pestiferous species. Dinotefuran exhibited high laboratory efficacy against P. sp. nr. pubens, while treatments using novaluron were inconclusive. The use of expanded-use Termidor? demonstrated trends in these data that suggest it as the treatment of choice. Other field treatments, such as Termidor and Top Choice?, Termidor and Advance Carpenter Ant BaitTM, and Transport? and Talstar? G, did not attain the success found in the expanded-use Termidor treatment. Most treatments examined were determined ineffective against high populations of P. sp. nr. pubens. Additional and more intensive population management regimes should be investigated. Abating further P. sp. nr. pubens population proliferation to other regions will only be realized from additional control research supplemented with state and federal interdiction policies.