How Carbs Curb Ant Ailments
Social immunity in ant colonies is largely dependent on a healthy diet
By DR. STUART MITCHELL
Within an ant colony, there is always a threat of disease transmission during social interactions. Those same social interactions allow for disease resistance, also called social immunity. An essential part of social immunity is a balanced diet. A recent study showed a carbohydrate-rich diet increases immunity within ant colonies.
A protein-carbohydrate balanced diet affects social immunity within ants. For example, when exposed to the parasitic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae, ant workers reared on a high-carbohydrate diet survived ~2.8x longer in worker groups than in solitary conditions versus workers reared on a high-protein diet survived only ~1.3x longer in worker groups than in solitary conditions.
A carbohydrate-rich diet also reduced worker death rates when whole colonies were challenged with the pathogenic fungus. A unique mechanism, carbohydrate-use may contribute to the ecological dominance of ants.
Understanding the significance of dietary requirements for pestiferous ants and their colonies allows pest management professionals to domesticate such requirements and use these against ant adversaries. Difficult to locate ant activity may be discovered by conducting a non-toxic carbohydrate-baiting census.
A solution of 10 percent table sugar and distilled water can serve as a potent ant attractant to locate and diagram hidden foraging patterns. Water forming the solution may also serve as an attractant during dry weather. Additionally, olive oil as well as moist canned cat food may serve as an attractant.
Several non-toxic baiting points may need to be deployed and serviced overtime; therefore a diagram of the space must be maintained. To facilitate deployment of numerous baiting points, 1.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes can be used. Using these tubes is beneficial because:
- Small size allows for easy-carry during service
- Labeling area on exterior of tube (avoid smelly inks)
- Snap cap allows preparation and preservation of non-toxic bait (RTU placements)
- See-through and graduated in 0.1 and 0.25 ml markings for non-toxic baiting assessment
- Available in different colors for deployment contrast
- Professional diagnostic appearance
- Can be washed and reused
- Place away from children or pets
Once ant activity is brought out of the dark, pest management professionals will see the LITE and solve even the most challenging pestiferous problems.
- Locate ants based on foraging behavior
- Identify ants down to species
- Treatment options for ant infestations based on biology and behavior
- Exclude ants to prevent re-infestations
Stuart Mitchell, D.O., is a board-certified family practitioner and entomologist who serves as technical editor for PMP magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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