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Project description

Bait development for ant control in vineyards. (02BU009)
Program UC IPM competitive research grants program
Principal
investigator
J.H. Klotz, Entomology, UC Riverside
Host/habitat Grapes
Pest Field Ant Formica perpilosa; Fire Ant Solenopsis spp.; Vine Mealybug Planococcus ficus
Discipline Entomology
Review
panel
Biorational Use of Biotic Agents
Start year (duration)  2002 (Two Years)
Objectives Develop containerized insecticide baits to control the ant, Formica perpilosa Wheeler, on grapes grown in the Coachella Valley, Riverside County, CA.

Evaluate various baits for preference by ants and determine if preference varies in relation to season.

Evaluate the efficacy and impact of baits on populations of F. perpilosa under field conditions.

Test a granular ant bait impregnated with the insect growth regulator, pyrproxyfin, against two fire ant species, Solenopsis molesta and S. aurea.

Evaluate the immediate and long-term effect upon populations of S. molesta and S. aurea when bait is applied post-harvest.

Final report In vineyards located in the Coachella Valley, Riverside County, California, the field ant, Formica perpilosa (Wheeler) aggressively tends vine mealybug disrupting its natural enemies and reducing biological control of this exotic grape pest. To determine if commercially available low-toxic ant baits control F. perpilosa, we conducted preference experiments in which five baits were tested. In addition, we tested a prototype bait, anchovy on corn grit, formulated with 0, 0.05, or 0.005% imidacloprid. Field trials then were conducted to test three preferred baits, Maxforce with 1% hydramethylnon and anchovy plus 0.05 and 0.005% imidacloprid. Ant populations treated with Maxforce or anchovy plus 0.005% imidacloprid were significantly reduced below that of the control at 122 days after treatment. Based on the above results, we also tested anchovy bait formulated with 1% hydramethylnon. Initial results indicated that this formulation can completely eliminate F. perpilosa nests. Although Maxforce is available commercially, growers cannot legally use this bait until it is properly labeled for use in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved bait stations. The prototype anchovy baits are not available commercially.

During 2003, we tested two EPA approved bait stations and a prototype station developed in our laboratory. F. perpilosa foraged equally from each of the bait stations tested. The commercial bait stations that we tested require a large amount of time to fill and distribute throughout a vineyard, and this may discourage growers from adopting their use. Our prototype station is designed so it can be easily filled and distributed through a vineyard from a moving vehicle, such as an All Terrain Vehicle.

Second-year
progress
Preference experiments conducted during 2002 indicate the field ant, Formica perpilosa Wheeler, prefers Maxforce (1% hydramethylnon) and anchovy bait without a toxicant, anchovy with 0.005% imidacloprid, and anchovy with 0.05% imidacloprid above all other baits tested (Fig. 1). In efficacy field trials, Maxforce and the anchovy bait with 0.005% imidacloprid reduced populations of F. perpilosa for up to 122 days after treatment.

Our data indicates that both hydramethylnon and imidacloprid are effective toxicants against F. perpilosa, however other available toxicants may provide more effective control. During 2003 we conducted a series of laboratory toxicity experiments in which thiamethoxam, Tim-bor® (disodium octaborate tetrahydrate), or boric acid were dissolved in 20% sucrose water at various concentrations and presented to F. perpilosa. Thiamethoxam is effective against F. perpilosa at a concentration of 0.0001% wt./wt. while Tim-bor® and boric acid are effective at concentrations of 0.25 and 0.5% wt./vol. respectively. Field trials are planned in which these toxicants will be formulated with the anchovy bait in lieu of imidacloprid.

During 2003 we also tested two commercially available ant bait stations and a prototype bait station developed in our laboratory. Ant baits delivered in bait stations can significantly reduce their registration requirements and can extend their efficacy by protecting the bait toxicant from photodegradation.

F. perpilosa foraged from each of the bait stations tested. However, the commercial bait stations that we tested require a large amount of time to fill and distribute throughout a vineyard; for this reason their use may be economically prohibitive. Our prototype station, however, is designed in order that it can be easily filled and distributed through a vineyard from a moving vehicle, such as an All Terrain Vehicle.

First-year
progress
We tested five commercially available baits: Maxforce coarse granular, Maxforce fine granular, Esteem, Niban, and Combat. In addition, we tested a bait that we formulated with anchovy. It was tested at two different concentrations of imidacloprid (0.005 and 0.05%) and also by itself without the toxicant. The bait preference test was a completely randomized design conducted in a 7.8 ha block of Superior Seedless Grapes. A visual inspection indicated that each vine in the block had an active nest of Formica perpilosa Wheeler at its base.

Anchovy baits were the most highly preferred over the duration of the experiment. The NiBan and Maxforce baits were not collected by F. perpilosa in significant amounts. Niban, which consists of weatherized cornhusk and 5% boric acid, did however attract a local fire ant species, Solenopsis molesta (Westwood). Maxforce, which consists of silkworm pupae and 1% hydramethylnon, was the only protein-based bait in the test. Our preliminary research with other species of Formica suggested that Maxforce might be attractive to F. perpilosa. No change in preference occurred over the experimental period.

A trial to test the efficacy of anchovy bait with 0.005% and 0.05% imidacloprid, and Maxforce against F. perpilosa began in Late August 2002. Both anchovy with 0.05% imidacloprid and Maxforce reduced the number of foraging ants by 10 days after treatment (DAT). Maxforce reduced the overall number of foragers below that of the control plot for up to 122 DAT.

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