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Efforts to eradicate yellow crazy ants on Johnston Atoll: Results from Crazy Ant Strike Team IX, December 2014-June 2015

September 23, 2015

The ecologically destructive yellow crazy ant (YCA; Anoplolepis gracilipes) was first detected on Johnston Atoll in January 2010. Within eight months, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had mobilized its first crazy ant strike team (CAST), a group of biologists dedicated to testing and identifying insecticidal baits to be used to eradicate the ant on the atoll. During December 2014‒May 2015 CAST IX focused on testing hydrogel crystals saturated with sucrose solution (25%) carrying the insecticides thiamethoxam and dinotefuran against YCA. A series of experiments, including artificial nest box trials, and field-based palatability trials and eradication tests on small (500 m2 or 0.05 ha) and large plots (2500 m2 or 0.25 ha), were conducted to test concentrations of thiamethoxam ranging from 0.0005% to 0.01%, and dinotefuran at 0.05%. Additionally, the cat food-based matrix containing dinotefuran (0.05%), the standard bait used to suppress YCA on Johnston since 2011, and textured vegetable protein (TVP) carrying dinotefuran at 0.1% and 0.05% were included in large plot tests. Nest box trials were inconclusive due to a consistent loss of queen and worker ants in control boxes, so they were discontinued. Palatability trials suggested higher dosages of thiamethoxam (0.005 and 0.01%) were less attractive than lower dosages (0.0005 and 0.001%) and controls (sucrose only), but small and large plot experiments failed to identify a thiamethoxam concentration that was consistently effective at killing YCA. In contrast, hydrogel containing dinotefuran was consistently effective, killing >95% of YCA on small and large plots. As expected, the cat food bait effectively reduced YCA abundances, but was slightly less effective than hydrogel containing dinotefuran over time. Three successive, approximately weekly treatments of large plots with hydrogel bait, or other baits followed by hydrogel bait, suggest an increasing overall effectiveness, with no aversion of YCA to the bait. This finding is important in that it indicates that hydrogel bait can be applied at short time intervals, potentially resulting in relatively constant exposure of YCA to highly attractive, yet toxic, sucrose-based bait. TVP performed similar to hydrogel, reducing YCA abundance >92% at both concentrations tested. Finally, dosages of hydrogel containing dinotefuran at 6, 12 and 24 l/0.25 ha were all effective at reducing YCA on large plots. Overall, results from these experiments suggest that hydrogel containing dinotefuran (0.05%) is a promising tool for eradicating YCA on Johnston Atoll.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Efforts to eradicate yellow crazy ants on Johnston Atoll: Results from Crazy Ant Strike Team IX, December 2014-June 2015
Authors Paul C. Banko, Robert W. Peck, Kevin Donmoyer, Stephan Kropidlowski, Amanda Pollock
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number HCSU-067
Index ID 70159943
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center

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