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Solenopsis invicta Suppress Native Ant by Excluding Mutual Exploitation from the Invasive Mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis

Solenopsis invicta Suppress Native Ant by Excluding Mutual Exploitation from the Invasive Mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis

Ai Ming Zhou1,2, Guang Wen Liang2, Ling Zeng2, Yong Yue Lu2 and Yi Juan Xu2*

1Hubei Insect Resources Utilization and Sustainable Pest Management, Key Laboratory, College of Plant Science and Technology, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China

2Red Imported Fire Ant Research Center, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China

*         Corresponding author: xuyijuan@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT

Mutualistic interaction between invasive ants and honeydew-producing hemipterans has been extensively examined in many studies. Laboratory experiments showed that invasive ant Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) suppress ghost ants Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) through interference competition. However, relatively less testing have been done to evaluate the competition for mutual exploitation between the two ant species in the field. Here, we investigated the interference of the fire ant S. invicta on the interactions between the ghost ant T. melanocephalum and the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) in the field. The results showed that fire ant invasion significantly suppressed honeydew exploitation by ghost ant. Fire ant suppression markedly increased the ghost ant foraging activity both on plants and the ground. Ant diversity in fire ant-infested plots was significantly reduced compared with in fire ant-free plots. Compared with in the no-ant plots, the colony growth rate of mealybug significantly increased, and the parasitism of mealybug was obviously decreased, both in fire ant-infested plots and in fire ant-free plots. Colony growth rate of mealybug in fire ant-infested plots was greater than fire ant-free plots. These results suggest that S. invicta suppresses the exploitation of honeydew-producing hemipterans by ghost ant and occupies most of the honeydew resource.

 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

June

Vol. 53, Iss. 3, Pages 801-1200

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