Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Host-tree selection by the invasive Argentine ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in relation to honeydew-producing insects.

Abstract

The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr; Hymenoptera: Formicidae), is one of the world's most hazardous invasive species, and thus its eradication from Japan is important. Physical and chemical controls can be expensive and cause strong adverse effects on local terrestrial ecosystems regardless of their high efficacy. Here, presence/absence of host-tree selection by Argentine ants was investigated to understand the ant-honeydew-producing insects interactions in order to develop new cultural controls compatible with biodiversity conservation. Abundance of Argentine ants and their tree utilization ratio was measured among dominant roadside trees (Cinnamomum camphora, Myrica rubra, Nerium indicum, Rhaphiolepis indica var. umbellata, Juniperus chinensis var. kaizuka) in two areas around Kobe, Japan. Almost all ants collected were Argentine ants suggesting that native ants would have been competitively excluded. Tree utilization of Argentine ants clearly differed among host trees. Abundance of both Argentine ants and honeydew-producing insects and tree utilization rate of the ants were significantly lower in especially C. camphora and J. chinensis. Few Argentine ants were observed trailing on C. camphora, J. Chinensis, and N. indicum, most probably due to low abundance of honeydew-producing insects on these trees with the toxic and repellent chemical components. On the other hand, high abundance of both Argentine ants and homopterans were found in M. rubra and especially R. indica. We suggest that reductions of R. indica and M. rubra would lead to a decrease in abundance of honeydew-producing insects, and thus effectively control populations of Argentine ants. At the same time, planting of C. camphora, J. Chinensis, and N. indicum may also play a role in restraint efficacy against invasion of the invasive ants.