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Efforts to eradicate yellow crazy ants on Johnston Atoll: Results from crazy ant strike teams X, XI and XII (June 2015–December 2016)

June 14, 2017

Efforts to eradicate invasive yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes; YCA) on Johnston Atoll have been continuous since their discovery in 2010. Through 2014, a variety of commercial and novel formicidal baits were tested against the ant, but none proved capable of eradication. More
recently, polyacrylamide crystals (“hydrogel”) saturated with a sucrose solution containing the insecticide dinotefuran has been shown to be effective over large areas when applied against YCA alone or sequentially with a protein-based cat food bait. During June 2015–December 2016, Crazy Ant Strike Teams (CASTs) conducted treatment and monitoring efforts across an infestation of about 57 ha on Johnston Atoll. Following three infestation-wide treatments (primarily using hydrogel) during 2015, YCA were reduced 98% and surviving nests became difficult to find. Subsequently, a protocol designed to detect ants at low abundance that combined hand searching with a high density of baited monitoring stations (12 stations/0.25
ha; HST protocol) was employed within a network of 50 x 50 m cells that subdivided the infestation. During 2016 YCA were found at numerous locations using this method and standard grid-based bait monitoring surveys. Overall, 65 cells where YCA were detected, or cells adjacent
to detections, were treated with hydrogel or cat food bait. YCA were not detected during four monitoring events each separated by at least one week, on 85% of these cells after 1–3 treatments, but it was necessary to treat several cells 4–7 times before YCA were eliminated. Results from HST searches allowed us to estimate the probability that YCA were detected when
present in an area when searched using that method. Based on this probability, it was determined that areas would have to be searched three times without YCA being detected to allow 93% certainty that the ants were absent. The level of certainty increased to 99% when the search was conducted four times and YCA were not found. Overall, the likelihood of
eradicating YCA on Johnston Atoll appears high using existing protocols.

Publication Year 2017
Title Efforts to eradicate yellow crazy ants on Johnston Atoll: Results from crazy ant strike teams X, XI and XII (June 2015–December 2016)
Authors Robert W. Peck, Paul C. Banko, Kevin Donmoyer, Katrina Scheiner, Rebekah Karimi, Stefan Kropidlowski
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number HCSU-TR081
Index ID 70188642
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center