A new disease causing agent has been identified in red imported fire ant populations in Florida. This disease is caused by a protozoan in the genus Mattesia, and induces a color change in infected adults to a lighter yellow-orange. Infected ant adults are filled with spindle-shaped oocysts, which develop in pairs from 2-cell gametocysts. Earlier developmental stages occur in the ant pupae, where different schizont stages have been observed. Infection likely occurs during the ant larval stage (4th instar) when the large oocysts could be ingested. Several characteristics including genetic evidence indicate that this disease is distinct from that caused by Mattesia geminata in S. geminata.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Solenopsis invicta (Red Imported Fire Ant, Fire Ant)
Species 2: Neogregarinida Lipotrophidae Mattesia
Keywords: microbial control, insect disease
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