Solenopsis geminata (tropical fire ant)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius)
Preferred Common Name
- tropical fire ant
Other Scientific Names
- Atta geminata
- Solenopsis geminata rufa Jerd.
International Common Names
- English: brown ant; fire ant; fire ant, tropical; red ant; stinging ant
- Spanish: hormiga brava; hormiga brava roja; hormiga caribe
- French: fourmie
Local Common Names
- Netherlands: Tabaks-mier
- SOLEGE (Solenopsis geminata)
- SOLEGR (Solenopsis geminata rufa)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page Relative to other invasive fire ant species such as Solenopsis invicta, the tropical fire ant, S. geminata, has a greater world-wide distribution. Where introduced, it has often become one of the dominant pest ant species, affecting fauna and flora (Hoffmann et al., 1999; Geetha Viswanathan and Ajay Narendra, 2000).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Hymenoptera
- Family: Formicidae
- Genus: Solenopsis
- Species: Solenopsis geminata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page Taber (2000) provided the historical background of the taxonomic status of the tropical fire ant, S. geminata. The fire ants comprise a group of 18 to 20 species that are native to the New World and within the genus Solenopsis. This genus contains approximately 200 species including 'thief ants', most of which are incapable of stinging humans, and nest close to other ant nests and rob them of stored food and brood. Trager (1991) recently revised this group of ants. Several colour forms have been recognized (Hölldobler and Wilson, 1990). Barrion et al. (1979) refer to the subspecies Solenopsis geminata rufa.
DescriptionTop of page Hung et al. (1977) provided a key for the identification of fire ants in Texas, USA. S. geminata worker ants have two nodes between the thorax and abdomen, distinct compound eyes, ten segments on the antennae with two segments forming a club, no spines on the propodeum and are over 2 mm long. Major worker ants have a deep groove on the vertex of the head, mandibles without teeth and are entirely black, with a short antennal scape reaching half-way to the vertex (Vinson et al., 2003).
DistributionTop of page This species is native to the New World, including the Caribbean islands such as Puerto Rico. It has spread world-wide, in some cases to environments where the conditions are unfavourable for this species to survive outdoors such as Winnipeg, Canada (Ayre, 1977).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Brunei Darussalam||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|China||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Guangdong||Present||Introduced||Zeng et al., 2005|
|-Hong Kong||Present||Introduced||Invasive||APPPC, 1987; Hong Kong Government Information Centre, 2005; EPPO, 2014|
|Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Lake and O'Dowd, 1991; EPPO, 2014|
|India||Present||Introduced||George and Narendran, 1987; Lakshmikantha et al., 2001; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014; Lokeshwari et al., 2015|
|-Karnataka||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Lakshmikantha et al., 1996; Sunil Joshi, 2008|
|-Maharashtra||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Teli and Salunkhe, 1994|
|-Odisha||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Sridhar et al., 2001; EPPO, 2014|
|-Tamil Nadu||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present||Introduced||Dhiman and Pravesh, 2008|
|-West Bengal||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Chintha et al., 2002; EPPO, 2014|
|Indonesia||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Nusa Tenggara||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Sumatra||Present||Introduced||Invasive||van den Berg et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014|
|Malaysia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Lee et al., 2002; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Peninsular Malaysia||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Myanmar||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Pakistan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Ahmed et al., 1989|
|Philippines||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Yusa, 2001; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Sri Lanka||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Taiwan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||ISSG, 2005; ISSG, 2009|
|United Arab Emirates||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Collingwood et al., 1997; ISSG, 2009|
|Vietnam||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Liberia||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Manitoba||Absent, intercepted only||Ayre, 1977|
|Mexico||Present||Native||Castillo-Guevara and Rico-Gray, 2002; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|USA||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Alabama||Present||Native||Glancey et al., 1976; EPPO, 2014|
|-California||Present||Native||Risch and Carroll, 1986; EPPO, 2014|
|-Florida||Present||Native||Wetterer & O'Hara, 2002; EPPO, 2014|
|-Georgia||Present||Brinkman et al., 2001; EPPO, 2014|
|-Hawaii||Present||Native||Avila and Goff, 1998; EPPO, 2014|
|-Mississippi||Present||Native||Ross et al., 1987; EPPO, 2014|
|-New Mexico||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-North Carolina||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-South Carolina||Present||Native||Bass & Hayes, 1976; EPPO, 2014|
|-Texas||Present||Native||Morrison et al., 1999; EPPO, 2014|
Central America and Caribbean
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Bahamas||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Barbados||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Belize||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; ISSG, 2009|
|Costa Rica||Present||Native||Perfecto and Vandermeer, 1996; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Cuba||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Guadeloupe||Present||Native||Pavis et al., 1992|
|Guatemala||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Haiti||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Honduras||Present||Native||Canas and O'Neil, 1998; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Jamaica||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Netherlands Antilles||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009|
|Panama||Present||Native||Torres, 1984; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Native||Buren, 1982; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009|
|Saint Lucia||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Native||Laurence, 1987; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009|
|United States Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009|
|Brazil||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Bahia||Present||Native||Delabie and Fowler, 1995; EPPO, 2014|
|-Minas Gerais||Present||Native||Fowler et al., 1995|
|-Sao Paulo||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Colombia||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Ecuador||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Galapagos Islands||Present||Aesch and Cherix, 2005|
|French Guiana||Present||Native||Torregrossa and Kermarrec, 1984; EPPO, 2014|
|Guyana||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Peru||Present||Native||Escalante, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Venezuela||Present||Native||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|American Samoa||Present||Introduced||Wetterer Vargo, 2003; ISSG, 2009|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Hoffmann et al., 1999; EPPO, 2014|
|Cook Islands||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009|
|French Polynesia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Morrison, 1997; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Guam||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Schreiner and Nafus, 1988; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Kiribati||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Marshall Islands||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009|
|New Caledonia||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014|
|Samoa||Present||Wetterer Vargo, 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Introduced||ISSG, 2009|
|Tonga||Present||Introduced||ISSG, IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group; APPPC, 1987; ISSG, 2009; EPPO, 2014||Reported invasive in 1967|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page Taber (2000) provides a world-wide distribution map for S. geminata. This species has been widely spread through commerce to new locations in North and South America, Africa, Australia, Asia and the islands of Oceania, where it can become a dominant species (George and Narendran, 1987; Porter et al., 1997). This is a predominantly tropical species.
In parts of southern USA, the historical distribution of S. geminata has been reduced in areas invaded by high population levels of imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri) (Vinson et al., 2003). Thus, historical records may no longer express the current distribution.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page The phytosanitary risk is high for areas that do not already have this species and are located in warmer climates.
HabitatTop of page S. geminata generally nests in the soil of suitable environments.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page S. geminata is omnivorous, but among the fire ants is known more as a seed-feeding species. The morphologically distinctive major worker ants are specialized in collecting and feeding on the seeds of many plant species, including weeds (Wilson 1978; Carroll and Risch, 1984; Tennant and Porter 1991; Sangal and Neena Bakshi, 1994). Although this ant is reported to occur in a number of crops (avocado, banana, cabbage, citrus, cocoa, corn, cotton, coffee, cucumber, eggplant, mango, okra, papaya, pastureland, pineapple, sorghum, soybeans, strawberries, sugarcane, tobacco, tomato, rice and vegetables) and in cultivated land, it is seldom reported to be a direct pest of these crops.
Seed loss to crops such as cabbage, corn, sorghum and tomato can be significant. However, this species also girdles plants, imbibes sap, and bites branches, shoots, buds, flowers and fruits (Hill, 1975). The ants in nests that are built at the base of citrus tree trunks gnaw through the bark (Essig, 1926; Wolcott, 1933). Indirectly, S. geminata can negatively affect plant health by tending sucking insects (Homoptera), or in one case, prevent pollination (Carroll and Risch, 1983). However, because these ants sting, they can affect field workers that are sensitive to arthropod venom, and can affect equipment such as drip irrigation systems (Ota and Chang, 1981) and electrical equipment (Prins, 1985). In addition, they occur in urban areas (such as in turf and occasionally enter buildings), wildlife areas, forests and other sites suitable for the species.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Abelmoschus esculentus (okra)||Malvaceae||Habitat/association|
|Ananas comosus (pineapple)||Bromeliaceae||Habitat/association|
|Brassica oleracea var. capitata (cabbage)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Carica papaya (pawpaw)||Caricaceae||Habitat/association|
|Cenchrus ciliaris (Buffel grass)||Poaceae||Main|
|Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)||Rubiaceae||Habitat/association|
|Cordia myxa (sebesten)||Boraginaceae||Habitat/association|
|Cucumis sativus (cucumber)||Cucurbitaceae||Habitat/association|
|Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass)||Poaceae||Main|
|Eleusine coracana (finger millet)||Poaceae||Habitat/association|
|Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue)||Poaceae||Main|
|Fragaria ananassa (strawberry)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Glycine max (soyabean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Gossypium hirsutum (Bourbon cotton)||Malvaceae||Habitat/association|
|Grewia asiatica (phalsa)||Tiliaceae||Habitat/association|
|Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato)||Convolvulaceae||Habitat/association|
|Leptochloa dubia (green strangletop (USA))||Main|
|Mangifera indica (mango)||Anacardiaceae||Habitat/association|
|Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)||Solanaceae||Habitat/association|
|Oryza sativa (rice)||Poaceae||Habitat/association|
|Paspalum conjugatum (sour paspalum)||Poaceae||Main|
|Paspalum distichum (knotgrass)||Poaceae||Main|
|Pennisetum clandestinum (Kikuyu grass)||Poaceae||Main|
|Persea americana (avocado)||Lauraceae||Habitat/association|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Habitat/association|
|Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Solanum melongena (aubergine)||Solanaceae||Habitat/association|
|Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)||Poaceae||Main|
|Theobroma cacao (cocoa)||Malvaceae||Habitat/association|
|Trichosanthes dioica (pointed gourd)||Cucurbitaceae||Habitat/association|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Habitat/association|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Pre-emergence, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / external feeding|
|Growing point / external feeding|
|Seeds / external feeding|
|Stems / external feeding|
|Stems / gummosis or resinosis|
|Stems / internal feeding|
|Vegetative organs / external feeding|
|Vegetative organs / internal feeding|
|Whole plant / cut at stem base|
|Whole plant / external feeding|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
|Whole plant / wilt|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The research of S. geminata is fairly extensive, particularly from locations where it is an introduced exotic species. In these locations, S. geminata often becomes one of the more dominant ant species, causing many problems similar to those caused by Solenopsis invicta (Porter et al., 1997).
The biology of S. geminata is similar to other closely related fire ant species. Wilson (1978) described caste behaviour. The head capsules of the major worker ants are distinctly larger and lobed relative to those of minor workers because of their specialized seed foraging and milling behaviour.
The colonies of S. geminata can either be monogyne, each containing a single queen ant, or polygyne, containing many reproductively-active queen ants (Adams et al., 1976; MacKay et al., 1990; Williams and Whelan, 1991).
Ross et al. (1987) has evaluated the genetics of S. geminata and other fire ant species. This species has been known to hybridize with other closely related fire ant species; Morrison (2000) discusses the hybrid Solenopsis geminata x Solenopsis xyloni.
Physiology and Phenology
The pheromones known for S. geminata are discussed by Blum (1982) and Jaffe et al. (1985), and considerable work has been carried out to characterize the ant's venom (e.g. Battenfield et al., 1982).
The winged reproductive male and female S. geminata leave the nests on mating or nuptial flights, late in the day or at dusk on days of or following rains during warmer periods of the year (Travis, 1941; Hung et al., 1977; Trager, 1991). Two forms of queen ants are recognized and have different mating strategies (McInnes and Tschinkel, 1995). Following mating, the female reproductive ants or queens drop their wings and dig a burrow to start a new colony. The queens begin laying eggs and can lay up to 1123 eggs per day (Travis, 1941). Development from egg to adult can take from 3 to 4 weeks and up to 2 months (Wheeler and Wheeler, 1955; Vargo, 1993). Egg hatch occurs in 14 to 17 days, larval development in 24 days to 6 weeks and the pupal stages last up to 19 days (Veeresh, 1990a). The worker ants include minor workers (2.6 mm larvae), major workers (5.2 mm larvae) and intermediate sized workers. Colony maturity occurs in 1 to 2 years (Wilson and Taylor, 1967). The colonies have been reported to contain up to 100,000 ants (Way et al., 1998), but other estimates are lower, generally ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 (Veeresh, 1990a, b).
S. geminata, like other ants, are social insects. This species generally builds nests in the soil in open, sunny areas, although they can also occur in the shade and inside structures. The nests are formed as craters or mounds in which the ants seek optimum temperatures for reproduction. At certain times of the year, the nests have multiple entrance holes (16 to 20 per nest) in mounds up to 2 ft wide and 12 inches tall (Van Pelt, 1958), although most mounds are not as tall or even crater-like. The subterranean foraging tunnels (up to 3 inches deep) extend from the nest in all directions and may be 100 ft long, with vertical tunnels extending up to 6 ft deep in the ground (Wheeler, 1910). The density of colonies in areas varies greatly and can range from 10 mounds per acre to 80 mounds per acre in native habitats (McInnes and Tschinkel, 1995), but in some areas the polygyne forms of the ant can reach up to 1000 mounds per acre (MacKay et al., 1990). In India, mound densities have been reported as 1500 mounds per acre (Veeresh, 1990a). The colonies frequently migrate to new locations (Lakshmikantha et al., 1996), migrating over 100 ft from the original nest locations.
S. geminata often colonizes disturbed habitats (Risch, 1981; Perfecto, 1991). It is capable of colonizing most types of soils and media. It occurs in shaded orchards and woods (Essig, 1926; Wilson and Brown, 1958), as well as open areas. Habitat types vary greatly (Wheeler, 1910; Travis, 1941; Creighton, 1950; Van Pelt, 1958; Whitcomb et al., 1972; Buren et al., 1974; Moody et al., 1981; Moody and Franke, 1982; Carroll and Risch, 1984; Tschinkel, 1988; Verhaagh, 1991; Muniappan and Marutani, 1992; McInnes and Tshinkel, 1995; Way et al., 1998). This species prefers low to mid-elevations below 1500 ft (Forel, 1993; Perfecto, 1994), but has been reported to occur at 3000 ft (Smith, 1936). It prefers mild winter temperatures and high humidity (Snelling, 1963). Cokendolpher and Francke (1985) described the temperature preferences of S. geminata. The influence of microhabitats on distribution is discussed by Torres (1984). Foraging occurs in the temperature range of 77 to 90°F, with extreme temperature limits that prevent foraging below 36°F and above 122°F (George and Narendran, 1987).
Although S. geminata is reported to be associated with a wide variety of crop and animal commodities in the field, the impact of the ants is often not reported to be negative, nor is injury always caused to the agricultural commodity. In many cases, the foraging ants prey on pest arthropods such as ticks, caterpillars and beetle life stages. They are associated with sucking insects such as aphids, leafhoppers and other Homoptera, which they 'tend', to feed on the sugary honeydew secretions (Tennant and Porter, 1991).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
S. geminata can be moved by the human transport of colonies or mated queen ants in soil or other suitable nesting materials, or naturally by mating flights or the movement of colonies floating in floodwater (Litsinger et al., 1986), similar to the ways in which Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri have been spread to new areas. The cracks and crevices of stems and bark could harbour mated queen ants of small colonies, particularly associated with soil or potting media. The ants or 'worked' soil would be visible to the naked eye. The movement by humans has led to infestations on many remote islands such as the Galapagos Islands (Williams and Whelan, 1991) and Guam (Schreiner and Nafus, 1988).
S. geminata often colonizes disturbed habitats (Risch, 1981; Perfecto, 1991). The removal of rain forests or the cultivation of fields causes rapid colonization by this species, making it a dominant ant in many agricultural systems.
S. geminata and other ant species may also be associated with the transmission of some plant diseases through the injuries made by the ant (Suarez-Sotolongo, 1990).
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Growing medium accompanying plants||adults; eggs; larvae; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Loose wood packing material|
|Processed or treated wood|
|Solid wood packing material with bark|
|Solid wood packing material without bark|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
S. geminata is considered to be an economically important pest ant (Lakshmikantha et al., 2001) even in Florida, USA, this species' native habitat (Wojcik et al., 1976). Stand loss in agricultural crops can be significant where this species is abundant. Perfecto (1994) reported a loss of 90% of tomato seeds. The loss of corn and sorghum seeds and seedlings has also been reported (Carroll and Risch, 1984; Trabanino et al., 1989). However, the overall estimates of economic losses are unavailable. Economic benefits can also be provided by this species (Risch and Carroll, 1982); it has been documented to be a major predator of many other arthropod pests such as engorged ticks, Boophilus microplus (Barre et al., 1991) and fruit flies (Eskafi and Kolbe, 1990).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
The impact of S. geminata is both positive and negative. Nesting activities improve soil conditions (Carroll and Risch, 1983) and foraging can reduce weed seeds (Risch and Carroll, 1986) and pest arthropod populations.
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page
S. geminata has often become one of the dominant pest ant species where it has been introduced, affecting the fauna and flora (Hoffmann et al., 1999; Geetha Viswanathan and Ajay Narendra, 2000). This species affects the seed of many plant species, moving and consuming them as discussed by Horvitz (1981), Nesom (1981) and others. In native areas (New World), subsequently invaded by imported fire ant species (Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri in the south-eastern USA), S. geminata populations (and its distribution) have been reduced (Vinson et al., 2003).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Drosophila digressa||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Predation||,|
|Hylaeus anthracinus (anthricinan yellow-faced bee)||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Predation||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014a|
|Hylaeus assimulans (assimulans yellow-faced bee)||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Predation||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014b|
|Hylaeus facilis (easy yellow-faced bee)||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Predation||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014c|
|Hylaeus hilaris (hilaris yellow-faced bee)||USA ESA species proposed for listing USA ESA species proposed for listing||Hawaii||Predation||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014d|
|Hylaeus kuakea (Hawaiian yellow-faced bee)||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Predation||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014e|
|Hylaeus longiceps||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Predation||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014f|
|Hylaeus mana||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Predation||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014g|
Social ImpactTop of page Because of the ability for S. geminata to bite and sting, this species is considered a pest of humans and animals. However, relative to the more aggressive imported fire ant species (Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri), it is less medically important.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Impact mechanisms
UsesTop of page The presence of S. geminata can be beneficial. However, other than use in conservation biological control programmes, the ant has not been used for augmentative biological control.
DiagnosisTop of page Suspect-ants should be collected in a vial of alcohol using forceps, cotton swabs or other suitable collecting methods that prevent the collector from being stung. Five to twenty-five specimens, particularly of the larger, major worker ants, should be collected and submitted to an identification specialist for species verification.
Detection and InspectionTop of page
The methods used for detecting and inspecting other fire ant species, such as Solenopsis invicta, can be used for S. geminata. Both species build nests in the soil and create mounds with honey-comb-shaped galleries in which ants reside. These can be observed on the soil surface, particularly after rainy periods. Any sites where the soil appears to be 'worked' and formed into small granulate particles should be inspected for the presence of ants. This is particularly important during the inspection of articles of trade stacked on pallets or containing suitable media for ant colony nesting. However, baiting methods are more suitable for detecting ants in transported articles, or in locations or seasons when the ants do not construct visible mounds. Bait stations to monitor S. geminata, using attractive substances such as tuna fish, have been evaluated (Nestel and Dickschen, 1990; Islam et al., 2000).
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page S. geminata is similar to the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (see data sheet on Solenopsis invicta).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
The efforts to develop controls for this pest in southern USA were reported as early as the 1930s (Travis, 1938, 1939), suggesting that this species of fire ant was considered pestiferous even before the arrival of the imported species. However, relative to the control programmes developed for the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, fewer management programmes have been specifically developed for S. geminata. Certainly, because these are both fire ants (closely related and similar in biology) the control programmes developed for S. invicta should also be useful for control of S. geminata. In areas of the world where S. geminata has been imported, their populations may be greater and control justified (George and Narendran, 1987; Porter et al., 1997). In India, management options are presented by Veeresh (1990b).
The inspection of articles of trade that can potentially harbour this species (e.g. nursery stock, sod, hay, field-working equipment or articles of trade associated with soil or other suitable nesting media) should be routine and can prevent the introduction and spread of this species.
Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods
Ota and Chang (1979, 1981) and Heinz and Carlson (1984) developed drip irrigation in Hawaiian sugarcane fields and assessed it as resistant to damage by foraging S. geminata.
None has been reported.
Although numerous organisms have been identified as natural enemies of S. geminata, few of these have been used as a method of control.
Neem extract (azadiractin) has recently been assessed as a treatment for S. geminata (Geetha Viswanathan et al., 2002).
Field Monitoring/Economic Threshold Levels
No economic threshold levels have been developed for S. geminata.
As a species of 'fire ant', pest management programmes developed for S. invicta can be applied to this species where it occurs and causes problems that justify suppression.
ReferencesTop of page
Aesch L von, Cherix D, 2005. Introduced ant species and mechanisms of competition on Floreana Island (Galápagos, Ecuador) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology, 45(2):463-482. http://www.csuchico.edu/biol/Sociobiology/volume/sociobiologyv45n22005.html#16
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