Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Homeowners Left Vulnerable To Leafcutter Ant Excavations

Date:
April 15, 2005
Source:
Texas A&M University -- Agricultural Communications
Summary:
And you thought fire ants were bad. Fireants are cruel pests, but at least they can be controlled and don't pose a risk to your home. Leafcutter ants, however, can be a huge pain when it comes to your house's landscape and foundation.

The leafcutter ant may not look it, but she's a vegetarian. These ants don't eat the leaves they strip from plants. They use them in a form of ant agriculture, inoculating the leaves with a fungus. The fungus grows on the leaves; the ants eat the fungus. (Texas Cooperative Extension photo by Dr. Bart Drees)

DALLAS – And you thought fire ants were bad. Fireants are cruel pests, but at least they can be controlled and don't pose a risk to your home.

Leafcutter ants, however, can be a huge pain when it comes to your house's landscape and foundation.

Worse, as older pesticides licensing by the EPA expire, the products can no longer be sold. Homeowners are left without any effective means of controlling the pest, said Dr. Michael Merchant, urban entomologist with Texas Cooperative Extension.

Merchant said that though the leafcutter ant has yet to become a widespread problem in the Dallas metroplex area, it has been a problem for homeowners in east, south and central Texas.

"Their large colony sizes, impressive soil excavating power and destructive potential against plants makes them a serious pest," said Merchant, who is based at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Dallas.

Not only do leafcutter ants strip landscape foliage of leaves, they create huge underground storage vaults for the leaves they gather. They don't actually eat the leaves, but use them in a form of ant agriculture, inoculating the leaves with a fungus. The fungus eats the leaves; the ants eat the fungus.

Though vegetarian ants may sound charming, in the process of excavating, they can cause both sunken areas in lawns and create large unsightly mounds. On many occasions, they have reportedly tunneled under house slabs and cause them to crack, Merchant said.

Control of leafcutter ants used to be fairly straight-forward with a bait product called Volcano, Merchant said.

But in the U.S., leafcutter ants are only found in parts of Texas and Louisiana. With a limited market area and facing millions of dollars to get the product periodically re-labeled by the EPA, the pesticide manufacturer stopped production.

Other products in this "limited use" category had the same fate.

"Volcano contained the active ingredient sulfluramid, used citrus pulp as the bait, and was very effective," Merchant said. "At the present time there is no equivalent replacement. This may change with time, but currently treatment options are limited."

Two other products are specifically labeled for leafcutter ant control, he said. Grant's Total Ant Killer and Amdro Ant Block are two baits similar to the old Amdro Green Label leafcutter ant bait.

"According to studies conducted by the Texas Forest Service, this type of bait is effective at eliminating colonies approximately 30 percent of the time. If control is not obtained from an initial application, it may be necessary to repeat; but this is no guarantee of control," Merchant said.

The remaining option is to use an insecticide dust labeled for ant control. The product should be applied to all the entrances in the mounds. The products include Orthene, Bayer Advanced Lawn Fire Ant Control Dust, Terro Ant Dust, Ortho Ant B Gone Dust and Spectracide Fire Ant Killer. Multiple applications might be necessary for control, he said.

Fire ant bait controls are not effective on leafcutter ants, Merchant said.

If the mound is on a neighbor's property, homeowners can protect their landscape plants by spraying their foliage with an insecticide labeled for long-lasting control of chewing insects, such as permethrin. This treatment will not eliminate colonies, but will help protect foliage.

"Leafcutter ants are one of the more frustrating pests facing Texas homeowners," Merchant said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University -- Agricultural Communications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University -- Agricultural Communications. "Homeowners Left Vulnerable To Leafcutter Ant Excavations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050413095241.htm>.
Texas A&M University -- Agricultural Communications. (2005, April 15). Homeowners Left Vulnerable To Leafcutter Ant Excavations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050413095241.htm
Texas A&M University -- Agricultural Communications. "Homeowners Left Vulnerable To Leafcutter Ant Excavations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050413095241.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins