The effects of laboratory rearing diet on recruitment behavior of Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidaea)

Michelle P. Montgomery, Casper Vanderwoude, A. Jasmyn J. Lynch, Wayne A. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is among the world's worst invasive species, and there is an increasing need for effective control methods for this species. Existing chemical treatments and baits used in managing other invasive ant species may not be as effective for managing W. auropunctata. Development of effective ant control treatments and baits depends on laboratory experiments to test the potential efficacy of a large number of products and control methods prior to implementation of large-scale field studies. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that laboratory-raised W. auropunctata may respond differently than their wild counterparts to bait types, and if this is the case, laboratory trials may not accurately predict results under field conditions. Here we report on experimental research investigating whether ant colonies raised in laboratories, and those in the field, show different patterns of recruitment to non-toxic baits. Laboratory and wild colony recruitment to non-toxic Hawaii Ant Lab gel bait, pureed tuna, and 50% gelled sucrose solution was measured via multi-choice and no-choice field recruitment studies. Secondly, we discuss experiments testing whether the bait preference of laboratory-raised W. auropuncata varies with their base diet. We tested 4 base diets: (1) lipid rich, (2) protein rich, (3) carbohydrate rich, and (4) a "complete" diet with lipid, protein, and carbohydrates offered as a buffet. Overall, we found that laboratory colonies differed from wild W. auropunctata in their foraging behaviors in no-choice and multi choice experiments, particularly in their levels of recruitment to the Hawaii Ant Lab gel bait. This contrast indicates that experimental trials may give misleading indications of potential outcomes of field trials. Further research is needed on optimal laboratory diets for laboratory-reared ant colonies. However, our results suggest that behavioral differences may be mitigated if colonies are maintained on a nutritionally limited diet while conducting laboratory experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalFlorida Entomologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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