Antagonistic Relationships between Ants and Wildlife with Special Reference to Imported Fire Ants and Bobwhite Quail in the Southeast

Nesting studies with penned quail were conducted during the summers of 1960 and 1961 in Lee County, Alabama. Approximately 30 hatches were obtained in close proximity to imported fire ant (Solenopsis .mevissima richteri Forel) mounds. These were carefully observed for any instance of annoyance or predation by the ants. Similar observations were made on four cotton rat litters. A small number of nests of various species of wildlife occurring naturally near ant colonies were observed. Observations were also made on pipping and newly hatched chicks placed about imported fire ant mounds. Data was gathered incidentally on the following other ant species: 1. Iridomyrmex humilis Mayr 2. Iridomyrmex pruinosus (Rog.) 3. Dorymyrmex pyramicus flavus McCook 4. Formica schaufussi Mayr Little damage to hatching chicks and newborn rats and mice was observed. Twenty years of census data and ecological observations were used in making a comparison of quail populations on a sample area before and after invasion by imported fire ants. The implications of 7 years of statewide reproductive data from quail wing returns are also considered. It is concluded that the ant species on which observations were made in this study are of little importance as predators on quail and cotton rats, and that the invasion by the imported fire ant has had little if any effect on total quail populations.

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