Sympatric associations among selected ant species and some effects of ants on sugarcane mealybugs in Hawaii

Fluker, Sam S (Sam Spruill)
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Sympatric associations of the ants Pheidole megacephala (F.), Anoplolepis longipes (Jerdon), and the Argentine ant--Iridomyrmex humilis (Mayr) were studied. The three ants are mutually exclusive of each other in areas where each ant is dominant. Of the three ants studied, Pheidole appears to be the most aggressive under normal conditions; however, during the "invasion cycle" of the Argentine ant, it is able to expand its territory into areas previously occupied by Pheidole. In other areas of the world where the Argentine-ant has become established, it has eliminated Pheidole. However, 30 years after the Argentine ant was first reported in the Hawaiian Islands•. Pheidole is still the dominant ant in much of the lowlands and shows no sign of being eliminated by the Argentine ant. A. longipes appears to be severely limited in its distribution in Hawaii because of its habit of nesting under large rocks or rock-lined irrigation ditches. Movements of the Argentine ant around the world during the last hundred years indicate it is most successful in areas situated at 30° to 36° latitude (north or south). This study has shown that of the three ant species the Argentine ant is best adapted for colonizing areas of Hawaii at elevations above 3,000 feet. These elevations in the Hawaiian Islands correspond to latitudes above 30°. Saccharicoccus sacchari (Cockerell), the pink sugarcane mealybug has many natural enemies in Hawaii. Some of the effects that the Argentine ant, Pheidole, and A. longipes have on populations and parasitization of the pink sugarcane mealybug were investigated. The presence of Pheidole and A. longipes appeared to result in slightly larger populations of the pink sugarcane mealybug, whereas the presence of the Argentine ant resulted in significantly larger populations of the mealybug. During periods of unfavorable weather conditions, populations of the mealybug decreased irrespective of the presence or absence of the ants. The attending of the mealybugs by the Argentine ant appeared to be a detrimental factor in the parasitization of the mealybugs by Anadyr's saccharicola Timberlake. Pheidole and A. longipes attending the mealybugs did not seem to interfere with the ovipositional activities of the parasite. The mealybugs reach much higher numbers in sugarcane growing along the field perimeter regardless of which ant is tending them. Under the conditions existing at Waimanalo Experiment Farm during this study, population levels of the pink sugarcane mealybug appeared to have no effect on rate of parasitism by A. saccharicola.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii, 1969.
Bibliography: leaves 82-86.
x, 86 l illus. (part col.), tables
Ants -- Hawaii, Sugarcane mealy bug
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii (Honolulu)). Entomology; no. 229
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