Recent concerns regarding the impact of traditional synthetic pesticides on nontarget organisms have generated demand for alternative products with lower environmental impact. This demand has led to increasing focus on plant essential oils as sources of new biopesticides. In this study, we demonstrate that the essential oil of the Alaskan yellow cedar, Cupressus nootkatensis (D. Don) Spach, has activity against hybrid imported fire ant workers, Solenopsis invicta Buren × Solenopsis richteri Forel. In digging assays, ants were repelled by nootka oil and digging continued to be suppressed by nearly 50% in nootka oil-treated sand aged 6 mo in the laboratory. Higher worker mortality was also observed in contact and fumigation assays compared to control checks. In a field drench test, mortality of mounds treated with nootka oil lagged behind mounds treated with bifenthrin treatment for 7 wk, but both nootka oil and bifenthrin had higher mortality than the untreated check at the end of the 12-wk evaluation period. In a band application evaluation, nootka oil plots maintained a 90–95% reduction in fire ant mounds from the 2nd to 17th wk, when new mounds began to intrude on the field plots. The quarantine-approved bifenthrin band treatment maintained 100% control from the 2nd to 24th wk. Although the formulation tested here did not perform to Federal Imported Fire Ant Quarantine standards, other formulations may enable this product to reach 100% control. In addition, nootka oil could be beneficial in situations where ant suppression rather than complete quarantine elimination is the management goal.
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Vol. 110 • No. 4