Antimicrobial properties of nest volatiles in red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta (hymenoptera: formicidae)
The antimicrobial property of volatiles produced by red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, against Beauveria bassiana, a common entomopathogenic fungus, was demonstrated. The germination rate of B. bassiana spores was significantly reduced after they were exposed to volatiles within an artificial ant nest. Since the air that contained the same level of O2 and CO2 as that in artificial fire ant nests did not suppress the germination rate of B. bassiana, the observed reduction of germination rate must be caused by the toxicity of nest volatiles. Nest fumigation may be an important component of the social immune system in S. invicta.