Mating flight initiation and nutritional status of Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) alates infected with Thelohania solenopsae (Microsporida: Thelohaniidae)



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Texas A&M University


Thelohania solenopsae Knell, Allen and Hazard, is a microsporidian pathogen that infects the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren. This four part study examined the effects that T. solenopsae had on fire ant queens as they matured for their mating flights. For the first study, a total of 878 alates were collected at two timed intervals during a nuptial flight and after to determine if T. solenopsae affected their ability to initiate a mating flight. Infection rates in alates that left the colony early during a flight were 23.75% while alates that did not leave the colony were 66.16%. Two other studies examined whether T. solenopsae affected protein and lipid stores in future queens. Protein stores were not significantly different in infected and uninfected ants, while lipid stores were significantly less in alates that were infected with T. solenopsae (10.69% in infected versus 13.98% in uninfected). The final analysis was done with all of the combined data, which showed that alates infected with T. solenopsae were significantly smaller than uninfected alates.