Red Imported Fire Ant colonies were allowed access in the laboratory to eggs of eight reptilian and one avian species. The ants were allowed to forage on the eggs for approximately one week each after which the eggs were removed from the foraging arenas. Evaluations of the impact of fire ant foraging on the eggs were made daily, and final evaluations were made upon removal from the arenas. Red Imported Fire Ants were not able to penetrate healthy Bobwhite Quail eggs, the only avian species used in this trial. The foraging ants were able to penetrate the eggs of Diamondback Terrapins, Yellowbelly Sliders, Eastern Painted Turtles, and Loggerhead Sea Turtles but were not able to penetrate the eggs of Florida Softshell Turtles or Musk Turtles. The ants were able to enter the eggs of Burmese Pythons and Yellow Rat Snakes. Results from this study suggest Red Imported Fire Ants may have a more prominent role in the decline of native reptilian species than was previously thought. Further studies, especially in the field, are necessary to determine the true impact.
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Vol. 44 • No. 2