Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Published in Florida Entomologist 84(2) 250-253 (2001)


Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta Buren) have increasingly been observed in loggerhead (Caretta caretta L.) and green (Chelonia mydas L.) sea turtle nests in Florida, and in the nests of freshwater turtles. They may be attracted to the disturbance, mucous and moisture associated with turtle nesting and establish foraging tunnels into turtle nests shortly after egg-laying, thus increasing the vulnerability of hatchlings to fire ant predation. We conducted experiments on a freshwater turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni Carr) to determine the potential impacts of S.invicta on turtle hatchlings. Over 70% of hatchlings were killed by S.invicta during pipping or shortly after hatching. To determine the extent of S.invicta infestation of sea turtle nesting beaches, we sampled known nesting beaches throughout the state of Florida. Beach surveys indicated that S.invicta are present and often abundant on most beaches and dunes along the Florida coast.