Limiting spread of a unicolonial invasive insect and characterization of seasonal patterns of range expansion

Biological Invasions
By: , and 



Limiting dispersal is a fundamental strategy in the control of invasive species, and in certain situations containment of incipient populations may be an important management technique. To test the feasibility of slowing the rapid spread of two Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) supercolonies in Haleakala National Park, Hawaii, we applied ant bait and toxicant within an experimental plot situated along a supercolony boundary. The 120×260 m plot simulated a small section of what could potentially be a 120 m wide treatment encompassing the entire expanding boundaries of both supercolonies. Foraging ant numbers at baited monitoring stations decreased sharply within two weeks after treatment, and ant spread was completely halted within the plot for at least one year. In contrast, an adjacent untreated colony boundary advanced an average of 65.2 m over the course of 1 year. Most of this spread took place in the summer and fall, at the time of highest ant abundance at bait monitoring stations, while no outward dispersal occurred during the spring and early summer. These patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that local budding dispersal in this unicolonial species stems from density dependent pressure rather than inherent founding behavior associated with mating. Based on results from this experiment, we are investigating the effectiveness of annual boundary treatments in slowing the Argentine ant invasion at Haleakala National Park. The goals of this program are to protect populations of native arthropods and to keep options open for eventual attempts at eradication.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Limiting spread of a unicolonial invasive insect and characterization of seasonal patterns of range expansion
Series title Biological Invasions
DOI 10.1023/
Volume 6
Issue 1
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Kluwer Academic Publishers
Publisher location Dordrecht
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 11 p.
First page 47
Last page 57
Country United States
State Hawaii
County Maui
Other Geospatial Haleakala National Park
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