The polygyne form of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, is thought to occur primarily in discrete populations embedded within areas composed of monogyne colonies. This distribution implies that polygyne colonies compete with monogyne colonies and subsequently create a population homogenous in social form. Because polygyne colonies produce mostly sterile males, opportunities for insemination of female alates might be minimal at the centers of large polygyne areas. To test for homogeneity in social form, a large polygyne population described in northcentral Florida was examined for the presence of single queen colonies. Forty-six to 51 colonies were sampled from each of six sites located along an east-west transect through the middle of the polygyne area in Marion County and a site at the northernmost limit of the polygyne area, Gainesville, FL. Several hundred workers from each nest were collected along with nest material. The social form of each sample was determined by an aggression test of workers to the introduction of non-nestmates and by the dissection of males for sterility. Both social forms of S. invicta were present at all collection sites and 103 of 333 (30.93%) colonies sampled were determined to be monogyne colonies. Among the collection sites, the percentage of colonies that were monogyne ranged from 3.9 to 57.4%. The polygyne region in northcentral Florida is more accurately described as an area where relatively high frequencies of polygyne colonies are interdispersed with single queen colonies.
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Vol. 96 • No. 1