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Tunneling Performance Increases at Lower Temperatures for Solenopsis invicta (Buren) but not for Nylanderia fulva (Mayr)

Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, P.O. Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Academic Editor: Brian T. Forschler
Insects 2015, 6(3), 686-695; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects6030686
Received: 11 June 2015 / Revised: 14 July 2015 / Accepted: 17 July 2015 / Published: 23 July 2015
Nylanderia fulva (Mayr), the tawny crazy ant, is an invasive pest established in Florida and several other Gulf Coast states. In their invasive ranges in the Southeastern USA, large N. fulva populations have reduced species abundance, even displacing another invasive ant, Solenopsis invicta (Buren). In North Florida, N. fulva populations survive winter temperatures that reach below freezing for extended periods. However, the shallow littoral debris used by N. fulva for nest construction offers little insulation to brood and reproductives when exposed to freezing temperatures. Field populations of N. fulva in North Florida were observed tunneling below ground, a previously undescribed behavior. Other invasive ants exhibit similar subterranean tunneling behavior as a means of thermoregulation. To test the hypothesis that N. fulva has the capacity to construct subterranean tunnels across a range of ecologically relevant temperatures, tunneling performance for N. fulva and S. invicta, another invasive ant that tunnels extensively, were compared at four temperatures (15.0, 18.0, 20.0, and 22.0 °C). Overall, N. fulva tunneled significantly less than S. invicta. Nylanderia fulva tunneled furthest at warmer temperatures whereas S. invicta tunneled furthest at cooler temperatures. However, N. fulva constructed subterranean tunnels at all temperatures evaluated. These data support the hypothesis that N. fulva is capable of tunneling in temperatures as low as 15.0 °C, confirming that this ant can also perform a behavior that is used by other ants for cold avoidance. View Full-Text
Keywords: Nylanderia fulva; Solenopsis invicta; tunneling; temperature; thermoregulation Nylanderia fulva; Solenopsis invicta; tunneling; temperature; thermoregulation
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Bentley, M.T.; Oi, F.M.; Gezan, S.A.; Hahn, D.A. Tunneling Performance Increases at Lower Temperatures for Solenopsis invicta (Buren) but not for Nylanderia fulva (Mayr). Insects 2015, 6, 686-695.

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