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1 April 2013 Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), Defend Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) Against Its Natural Enemies
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Mutualism is a common and important ecological phenomenon characterized by beneficial interaction between two species. Red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, tend honeydew-producing hemipteran insects and reduce the activity of these insects’ enemies. Anthemipteran interactions frequently exert positive effects on the densities of hemipterans. We tested the hypothesis that ant tending can increase the densities of the mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), and reduce the densities of the mealybug's predatory and parasitic enemies, the lady beetle, Menochilus sexmaculata Fabricius (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), and the parasitoid wasp, Aenasius bambawalei Hayat (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae). We found that more ants foraged on mealybug-infested hibiscus plants than on mealybug-free plants. The number of foraging ants on plants infested with high densities of mealybugs (62.5 ants per plant) was nearly six times that on mealybug-free plants (10.2 ants per plant). Experiment results showed that ant tending significantly increased the survival of mealybugs: if predatory and parasitic enemies were present, the survival of mealybugs tended by fire ants was higher than that in the absence of tending ants. Furthermore, this tending by fire ants significantly decreased the survival of lady beetle larvae. However, no apparent effect was observed on the survival of parasitoid.

© 2013 Entomological Society of America
Aiming Zhou, Yongyue Lu, Ling Zeng, Yijuan Xu, and Guangwen Liang "Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), Defend Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) Against Its Natural Enemies," Environmental Entomology 42(2), 247-252, (1 April 2013).
Received: 7 June 2012; Accepted: 1 January 2013; Published: 1 April 2013

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