Mating flight initiation and nutritional status of Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) alates infected with Thelohania solenopsae (Microsporidia: Thelohaniidae)
Roger E. Gold, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kathy Overton, email@example.com, and Brad Vinson, firstname.lastname@example.org. Texas A&M University, Entomology, 2475 TAMU, College Station, TX
Alate female Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Foremicidae) infected with Thelohania solenopsae Knell, Allen, and Hazard (Microsporiidae) were found to be significantly less likely to initiate a mating flight, and if a flight was initiated, the infected females were significantly more likely to initiate the flight later in the day. This would suggest that infected females would have a lesser probability of reaching a male swarm and encountering a fresh male and mate. Further, infected females exhibited a significantly reduced body weight and lipid titer, in comparison to non-infected individuals. These results suggested that the infected females were less capable of flight; less likely to reach a male mating swarm; less likely to out compete larger female; and, if mated or not, less likely to disperse as far as non-infected females. Further, infected females would be expected to be more likely to drift down wind. Lastly, upon landing and starting a colony they would be less likely to be mated and able to defend their brood from raiding or usurpation by nearby fire ant colonies.