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Project description

Predicting and controlling building infestations of the pest ant, Linepithema humile, by urban landscaping. (02XA013)
Program Exotic Pests and Diseases Research Program
Principal
investigators
P. Nonacs, Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution, UC Los Angeles
J.H. Klotz, Entomology, UC Riverside
Host/habitat Structures and Residential; Landscapes
Pest Argentine Ant Linepithema humile
Discipline Entomology
Review
panel
Agricultural Systems
Start year (duration)  2002 (Three Years)
Objectives Map the distribution and severity of Argentine ant infestations in UCLA campus buildings relative to interior and exterior attributes such as landscaping, light, temperature, pesticide application, nesting material, and food and water availability.

Identify and predict patterns of infestation with spatially explicit analysis techniques.

Modify those outdoor patterns of landscaping associated with infestations in selected sites and monitor sites for effectiveness of non-pesticide alternatives in reducing infestation.

Project
Summary
The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile Mayr, is a cosmopolitan urban pest with a marked tendency to infest buildings. In warmer climates the species also causes significant agricultural and ecological problems by tending and protecting pest insects and eliminating native ants. In this study, we will map the distribution of Argentine ant infestations in buildings on the UCLA campus. Using spatially explicit analyses, we will identify indoor and outdoor attributes that predict severe ant problems. Thereafter, we will modify campus landscape ecology to affect reductions in invasions. If effective, landscaping solutions will greatly reduce pesticide use for ant control.
Final report The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr), is a cosmopolitan urban pest with a marked tendency to infest buildings. In warmer climates the species also causes significant agricultural and ecological problems by tending and protecting pest insects and eliminating native ants. In this study, we mapped the distribution of Argentine ant infestations in buildings on the UCLA campus. We identified water inside of rooms as the strongest predictor of infestation. We have also found that the population density of ants outside of buildings does not predict infestation. Manipulative trials of providing water and food outside of infested structures reduced the number of ants in the structures and altered the distribution of ants. Our results suggest that landscaping solutions can reduce infestation rates by reducing the incentive ants have for searching within buildings. Modifying landscapes could be an alternative to using pesticides for Argentine ant control.

Third-year
progress
The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr), is a cosmopolitan urban pest with a marked tendency to infest buildings. In warmer climates, the species also causes significant agricultural and ecological problems by tending and protecting pest insects and eliminating native ants. In this study, we have mapped the distribution of Argentine ant infestations in buildings on the UCLA campus. We have identified water inside of rooms as the strongest predictor of infestation. We have also found that the population density of ants outside of buildings does not predict infestation. We have begun a manipulative trial of providing water outside of effective areas to see if this reduces indoor infestation. If effective, such landscaping solutions will greatly reduce pesticide use for ant control.

Second-year
progress
The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr), is a cosmopolitan urban pest with a marked tendency to infest buildings. In warmer climates the species also causes significant agricultural and ecological problems by tending and protecting pest insects and eliminating native ants. In this study, we have mapped the distribution of Argentine ant infestations in buildings on the UCLA campus and have begun a similar mapping project at the Los Angeles Zoo. We have identified water inside of rooms as the strongest predictor of infestation. We have also found that the population density of ants outside of buildings does not predict infestation. We have begun a manipulative trial of providing water outside of effective areas to see if this reduces indoor infestation. If effective, such landscaping solutions will greatly reduce pesticide use for ant control.

First-year
progress
The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile (Mayr) is a cosmopolitan urban pest with a marked tendency to infest buildings. In warmer climates the species also causes significant agricultural and ecological problems by tending and protecting pest insects and eliminating native ants. In this study, we will map the distribution of Argentine ant infestations in buildings on the UCLA campus. We will identify indoor and outdoor attributes that predict severe ant problems. Thereafter, we will modify campus landscape ecology to affect reductions in invasions. If effective, landscaping solutions will greatly reduce pesticide use for ant control.

Due to the seasonal pattern of ant infestation and the delay in getting the grant, no results are available at that stage.

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