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Giving them what they want: manipulating Argentine ant activity patterns with water

Enzmann, B. L., Kapheim, K. M., Wang, T. B., Nonacs, P.
Journal of applied entomology 2012 v.136 no.8 pp. 588-595
Linepithema humile, aviaries, buildings, foods, foraging, integrated pest management, mortality, surface temperature
The invasive success of the exotic Argentine ant [Linepithema humile (Mayr)] is often closely tied to year‐round availability of water sources. Previous studies suggest that the location of such water sources can strongly influence activity patterns of colonies and may be a key predictor of building infestations. We studied activity patterns of Argentine ants in relation to water and food resources in two open‐air structures (aviaries). In one series of manipulations, ant activity inside the aviaries was significantly reduced with the placement of numerous water sources around the outside. Inside activity increased again when the outside water sources were removed. A second series of manipulations involved the placement of water sources at targeted locations outside of the structures. Ant activity inside the aviaries consistently shifted significantly closer to these targeted sites. The results suggest that providing a reliable water source to Argentine ant colonies exterior to buildings can be a non‐chemical method of integrated pest management for reducing ant infestations. Independent of our manipulations, L. humile activity levels predictably declined with time of day, but these changes were uncorrelated with observed surface temperatures. In fact, activity was often noted at surface temperatures higher than those that cause worker mortality under laboratory conditions. This suggests that L. humile exhibits a consistent temperature‐independent circadian activity pattern of reduced foraging in afternoons relative to mornings.