Testing Baits to Control Argentine Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Vineyards


Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

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Journal Economic Entomology

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Liquid baits were evaluated for control of the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), and associated mealybug and soft scale pests in California vineyards. In 2003, liquid baits with small doses of imidacloprid, boric acid, or thiamethoxam dissolved in 25% sucrose water resulted in lower ant and mealybug densities and fruit damage, compared with an untreated control. Similar treatments in a soft scale-infested vineyard showed only a reduction of ant density and fruit infestation in only the boric acid and thiamethoxam treatments. In 2004, commercial and noncommercial formulations of liquid baits reduced ant densities in three separate trials, but they had inconsistent effects on mealybug densities and fruit infestation; granular protein bait had no effect. Using large plots and commercial application methodologies, liquid bait deployed in June resulted in lower ant density and fruit infestation, but it had no effect on mealybug density. Across all trials, liquid bait treatments resulted in lower ant density (12 of 14 trials) and fruit damage (11 of 14 sites), presenting the first report of liquid baits applied using commercial methodologies that resulted in a reduction of ants and their associated hemipteran crop damage. For commercialization of liquid baits, we showed that any of the tested insecticides can suppress Argentine ants when properly delivered in the crop system. For imidacloprid, bait dispensers must be protected from sunlight to reduce photodegradation. Results suggest that incomplete ant suppression can suppress mealybug densities. However, after ant populations are suppressed, there may be a longer period before hemipteran populations are effectively suppressed. Therefore, liquid baits should be considered part of a multiseason program rather than a direct, in-season control of hemipteran pest populations.