The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, is an important predator in some cropping systems in the United States, particularly sugarcane and cotton, where it preys on key pests such as the sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.), and beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua (Hübner). A study was undertaken to characterize the prey items collected by foraging S. invicta in an Oklahoma peanut field. From June to September 1999, 19 h of collecting yielded 1,276 foraged items. The largest percentage of foraged items (>20%) (other than unidentifiable fragments [39%]) were lepidopteran larvae, of which 87% were Stegasta bosqueella Chambers, the rednecked peanutworm. Overall, S. invicta collected approximately seven times more pest arthropods than beneficial arthropods. Forager success rates were ≈3.8 times higher for solids than liquids. Refuse piles in the field contained a large percentage of Coleoptera (≈26%) and did not mirror foraged material collections. Percent damaged pods on plants growing within S. invicta mounds was significantly (approximately three times) lower than on plants not within mounds. Additional data are presented on forager success rates and foraging/temperature relations.
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