A suspected infestation of red imported fire ants on the important nesting site Green Island in the Lower Laguna Madre recently brought a team of scientists from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to the Audubon Society protected island.
Audubon Warden Leroy Overstreet has noticed a recent increase in fire ant activity on the island and expressed concern the ants might be attacking nesting birds.
SOT Iliana Pena, Director of Conservation for Audubon Texas, "This is a natural island. It has been here a long time, and it has actually been under the protection of the National Audubon Society for a long time, but we have not had an idea of what the ants have been doing here. So, this will give us a good understanding of that, and if we need to do anything we will go from there."
The researchers first collect various ants. Next, they place bait out which consists of wiener slices in measured plots and check in an hour or so to determine which ants are attracted.
Imported fire ants have devastated some nesting islands along the Texas coast, but the scientists here on Green Island discover what appears to be a balanced ecosystem with various ant species including the less harmful native fire ants whose presence is encouraging as they resist colonization by exotic fire ants.
SOT Dr Bart Drees, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, "I don't know what the weather conditions have been here in South Texas over this summer, but if they have been favorable to ants this may just be one of these years where our native populations have just exploded to higher populations than normal."
With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.