Female alates of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), infected with Thelohania solenopsae Knell, Allen, and Hazard (Microsporidia: Thelohaniidae) were found to be significantly less likely to be among the early alates to initiate a mating flight. If a flight was initiated, the infected females were significantly more likely to initiate the flight later in comparison with uninfected alates. In addition, many infected female alates seemed not to fly as a significantly greater proportion of the remaining females. Furthermore, infected females exhibited a significantly reduced body weight and a significantly reduced lipid titer, in comparison with uninfected individuals. However, there was no difference between the infected and uninfected alates in the amount of soluble protein. These results suggest that the low-weight, late flying-infected females may be less likely to reach a male mating swarm and less likely to outcompete uninfected females in mating and dispersing. Last, if mated or not, upon landing, the infected females may less likely have the needed energy to initiate a colony.
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Vol. 99 • No. 3