Monday, December 10, 2007 - 9:53 AM

The foraging patterns of Formica exsectoides Forel throughout Maine lowbush blueberry fields

B. A. Choate, and FA. Drummond, University of Maine, Department of Biological Sciences, 304 Deering Hall, Orono, ME

Formica exsectoides Forel is a native North American species abundant throughout Maine forests, old field habitats and organic lowbush blueberry fields. During periods of activity, workers are omnivorous feeding on live and dead arthropods, as well as homopteran produced honeydew. Previous field studies demonstrated that F. exsectoides will effectively control Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, and Lepidoptera pests within jack pine stands. These results suggest that F. exsectoides may serve an important role in managing pest species in many ecosystems, including lowbush blueberry, making it a likely candidate for biological control within this and other northeastern cropping systems. During the summer of 2006, mounds within 4 fields were monitored weekly during various times of day to identify prey species being brought into the mound by foraging workers. In 2007 mounds were monitored weekly in 2 fields to evaluate the number of workers exiting the mound to forage and returning to the mound with and without prey. Monitoring results from 2006 indicated that Hymenoptera and Diptera were the most abundant prey orders comprising 22% and 16% respectively. Total number of prey was correlated with hourly air temperature and site, but not time. Preliminary results from 2007 indicate strongly that both decreased and significantly increased temperatures deter foraging activity. Results of this research will aid in the development of an IPM program focusing on the introduction of F. exsectoides into northeast cropping systems. Knowledge of foraging patterns is necessary to fully understand the impact of this species within ecosystems.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Formica exsectoides (Allegheny mound ant)