Open Access: CC BY 4.0


Oi, D., Porter, S.D. & Valles, S.M.

Year: 2015


A review of the biological control of fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Journal: Myrmecological News

Volume: 21

Pages: 101-116

Type of contribution: Review Article

Supplementary material: No


The suppression of established invasive ants will likely require biological control by natural enemies. This approach is self-sustaining and can impact undetected or inaccessible populations that are a source of the continual presence and expansion of the invaders. There is an ongoing effort to introduce and distribute biological control agents against fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, 1972 and Solenopsis richteri Forel, 1909, in the USA. Eight natural enemies, consisting of two pathogens, a microsporidium, Kneallhazia solenopsae, and a virus, Solenopsis invicta virus-3, plus six species of parasitoid flies in the genus Pseudacteon are now established (i.e., reproducing in the field). These biological control agents are host specific and negatively impact fire ants to varying degrees. Fire ant populations in the presence of biological control agents are often reduced (based on number of ants per nest), but the number of nests may not decline. It remains to be seen if the continued release and establishment of a suite of biological control agents can result in the complete control of fire ants. The currently established biocontrol agents are acting as expected by weakening fire ant colonies, and contributing to the potential cumulative attrition of colony vigor. Knowledge gained from establishing and disseminating biological control agents of fire ants in the Usa will allow for faster progress in the utilization of biological control for fire ants in other regions of the world as well as providing guidance for the importation and establishment of natural enemies for other invasive ants.

Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0. © 2015 The Author(s).

Key words:

Solenopsis invicta, red imported fire ant, Solenopsis richteri, black imported fire ant, classical biological control, biocontrol, natural enemies, parasites, pathogens, Pseudacteon, Kneallhazia solenopsae, Thelohania, SINV, Solenopsis invicta virus, Dicistroviridae, single-stranded RNA virus, invasive species, integrated pest management, control.

Publisher: The Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics

ISSN: Print: 1994-4136 - Online: 1997-3500