ARS scientists conducted research to determine if America’s agricultural system is safe from COVID-19.
Fighting the Invasive Tawny Crazy Ant
Native to South America, tawny crazy ants are invasive pests found mainly in Texas and Florida, but they have also spread to coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. As its name suggests, tawny crazy ants move erratically, especially while foraging. These invasive pests also may form extremely large populations in urban and rural landscapes, invading homes and becoming major nuisances to people and threats to agriculture.
ARS scientists with the Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research Unit in Gainesville, FL, and the Foundation for the Study of Invasive Species (FuEDEI), an ARS partner in its overseas biological control laboratory near Buenos Aires, Argentina, conducted research to further understand tawny crazy ant behavior. Scientists discovered that invasive tawny crazy ants in Florida are part of a super colony that spreads across the southern United States. These ants have lost the territorial behaviors that create distinct colonies in the genetically more diverse native South American populations. The lack of territorial behavior facilitates the formation of extremely large (super) populations whose need for resources brings them into direct conflict with the human population. While this is bad news for people, ARS scientists are using their research findings to design control strategies to manage and reduce tawny crazy ant populations.
(Tawny crazy ant photo courtesy of Lyle Buss, University of Florida)
Explore Other Discoveries
Scientists Test Farm Animals for COVID-19
Cattle Thank Their Lucky Clovers
Red clover in cattle diets could give them additional defense against fescue toxicosis, caused by the consumption of fungus-infected tall fescue when grazing.
Fungus Compounds May Help Fight Fish Disease
ARS researchers and Villanova University researchers looked at compounds called pyranopyrans that have significant antibacterial properties against a certain fish pathogen.
Improved Computer Modeling Can Help Predict Future Outbreaks
ARS researchers used computer modeling to predict the limited potential of livestock transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
New Breeding Tools Boost Atlantic Salmon Production
An improved genome reference sequence for the North American Atlantic salmon and the first DNA chip enables the use of genomic information in breeding strategies.
Protecting U.S. Swine from a Looming Animal Disease Threat
ARS scientists at the Plum Island National Animal Disease Research Center are preparing countermeasures in case of the arrival of African Swine Fever in the United States.