Predator exclusion was used to measure the impact of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, on abundance of corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), eggs and larvae feeding on ears of maize, Zea mays L., and on corn earworm pupae in the soil in north-central Texas. Large field plots were treated with Amdro® Fire Ant Bait insecticide to selectively suppress fire ant abundance without impacting other arthropods or their behavior. Abundance of corn earworm eggs, larvae and pupae were determined in maize in which abundance of fire ants was significantly reduced and compared with the abundance of corn earworm life stages in maize with extant populations of fire ants. Fire ants had little or no measurable effect on abundance of corn earworm eggs or larvae on ears of maize in the three fields studied during two years. The mean total number of foraging fire ants and abundance of corn earworm pupae in the soil were significantly and negatively related. This result suggests that fire ants prey on pre-pupal corn earworm larvae as they crawl on the soil surface or prey on pupae in cells in the soil. The role of red imported fire ant as both a pest and beneficial in production of maize in central Texas is discussed.
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