Toxicity of formic acid to red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren

Jian Chen, Tahir Rashid, Guolei Feng
Pest Management Science 2012, 68 (10): 1393-9

BACKGROUND: Ants often compete with other ants for resources. Although formic acid is a common defensive chemical of formicine ants, it does not occur in any other subfamilies in Formicidae. No information on toxicity of formic acid to red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, is available. This study examined its contact and fumigation toxicity to S. invicta in the laboratory.

RESULTS: In a contact toxicity bioassay, 24 h LD50 values of formic acid for workers ranged from 124.54 to 197.71 µg ant(-1) . Female alates and queens were much less sensitive to formic acid than workers. At a concentration of 271.72 µg ant(-1) , which killed 81.09 ± 16.04% of workers, the 24 h mortality was up to 39.64% for female alates and 38.89% for queens. In fumigation bioassays, 24 h LC50 values ranged from 0.26 to 0.50 µg mL(-1) for workers, 0.32 µg mL(-1) for male alates and 0.70 µg mL(-1) for female alates. Complete mortality (100%) in queens occurred 24 h after they had been exposed to 1.57 µg mL(-1) of formic acid. At a concentration of 2.09 µg mL(-1) , KT50 values ranged from 23.03 to 43.85 min for workers, from 37.84 to 58.37 min for male alates, from 86.06 to 121.05 min for female alates and from 68.00 to 85.92 min for queens.

CONCLUSION: When applied topically, formic acid was significantly less toxic than bifenthrin to red imported fire ants. Although its fumigation toxicity was lower than that of dichlorvos, formic acid had about an order of magnitude higher toxicity to S. invicta than to other insects studied so far. It may be worth investigating the use of formic acid for managing imported fire ants.

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