Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 545–557 | Cite as

Indirect effects of ant eradication efforts on offshore islets in the Hawaiian Archipelago

  • Sheldon Plentovich
  • Jakob Eijzenga
  • Heather Eijzenga
  • David Smith
Original Paper


Invasive species eradication and control are considered vital components of the conservation, restoration, and management of many native ecosystems. Invasive ants, which are notoriously difficult to eradicate, can cause catastrophic changes in ecosystems and are aggressive colonists. Here we report the eradication and control of two widely distributed invasive ants and subsequent unanticipated effects on arthropod and avian communities. We used a paired experimental design that included 1 year of baseline data collection, to test the effects of the formicide hydramethylnon on abundances of two ant species on two pairs of offshore islets. Pheidole megacephala was eradicated from the treated islet in pair 1 and was not detected during 2003–2008. On pair 2 Solenopsis geminata numbers declined, but the species remained present. Target ant densities remained high on untreated islets. Application of hydramethylnon reduced numbers of alien cockroaches (Order: Blattaria), but we did not detect effects on other non-target arthropods. The eradication of P. megacephala was followed by dynamic compositional changes in the ant community, including the apparent colonization by three species (S. geminata, Tetramorium bicarinatum and Anoplolepis gracilipes) previously undetected on the islet. One of these, A. gracilipes, underwent a rapid range expansion during 2006–2008 which corresponded with reduced seabird nesting success. We conclude that hydramethylnon can be used effectively to eradicate P. megacephala. However, ant eradications can have detrimental effects on ecosystems and the potential for subsequent colonization of sites by other ant species that may be more harmful and more difficult to eradicate needs to be considered.


AMDRO® Island Non-target effects Pheidole megacephala Seabirds Solenopsis 



We thank the Offshore Islet Restoration Committee, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawaii Invasive Species Council, Hawaii State Division of Land and Natural Resources, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (NSF grant DGE02-32016 to K.Y. Kaneshiro), and Hawaii Conservation Alliance for funding this project. Chris Swenson, Andy Taylor, Paul Krushelnycky, Al Samuelson, David Preston, Richard Camp and Frank Howarth provided technical assistance ranging from logistical support to insect identification. Sheila Conant, Don Drake, Dave Duffy, Neil Reimer, Paul Krushelnycky, Ben Hoffmann and an anonymous reviewer provided thoughtful comments on drafts of this manuscript. Nori Yeung, Korie Merrill, Thomas Smith and Reina Tong devoted enormous amounts of time to sorting insect samples. We are grateful to Aaron Hebshi, Alex Handler, Pat Aldrich, Ethan Shiinoki, Norma Bustos, Anneleise Andrews, Anne Devereau, Meaghan Laut, Clay Trauernicht, Naomi Hoffman, and Mahina Lee-Chung for help in the field.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheldon Plentovich
    • 1
  • Jakob Eijzenga
    • 2
  • Heather Eijzenga
    • 3
  • David Smith
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.SWCA Environmental ConsultantsHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Bishop MuseumHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Hawaii Department of Land and Natural ResourcesDivision of Forestry and WildlifeHonoluluUSA

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