The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) is an invasive pest that causes ecological disturbance and economic damage to habitats worldwide. Since its introduction to the United States 75 years ago, the ant has spread across the southeast through Texas into California and causes over $6.5 billion in damages. Conventional control techniques have not proven effective or long-lasting, leading to a search for alternative methods. We examined the ability of WW-B.Dahl Old World bluestem (Bothriochloa bladhii [Retz] S.T. Blake), increasingly used in pastures, to limit or reduce ant infestations. Pastures planted with WW-B.Dahl had about one-third the fire ant mounds found in adjacent pastures of native grass or coastal bermuda (Cynodon dactylon [L.] Pers) grass, and the difference is statistically significant (P = 0.0006). No difference was found in the number of ants collected in bait cups or in mound vitality ratings, suggesting that more than one measure of ant infestation is needed to accurately assess ant populations. A reduction in fire ant mounds can improve the efficiency of haying operations and reduce wildlife impacts, suggesting broad uses for WW-B.Dahl in ant-infested areas.
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Vol. 59 • No. 3