Date of this Version
The polygynous form of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren was first reported from Mississippi in 1973; however, the source of the numerous fertile queens in polygynous colonies has remained an enigma. In 1987, 400 queens from a mating flight were marked with a durable paint and released in an area heavily populated with the polygynous form. None were recaptured after one week, but 9 months later, 4 clearly-marked queens were found in a nest 65 meters from their release point. This finding clearly points to adoption. About 5 weeks later, 37 of 107 fertile queens collected from 37 polygynous nests, were found to have partially histolyzed wing muscles and undeveloped ovaries. Mating flights had occurred a few days prior to the queen collections, thus it was apparent that these queens were newly adopted. This observation was verified following a second mating flight one week later. The results of our 3 studies clearly indicate that polygynous S. invicta can proliferate and perpetuate their colonies by queen adoption.