Viral infections in fire ants lead to dietary changes and anorexia
H. W. Hsu, D. D. Shoemaker, and C. C. Yang.  2018.  Scientific Reports, 8: Article number 13498.

Despite the presence of conserved innate immune function, many insects have evolved a variety of mechanical, chemical, and behavioral defensive responses to pathogens. Illness-induced anorexia and dietary changes are two behavioral defensive strategies found in some solitary insects, but little is known regarding the role of such behaviors in social insects, especially in ants. In the present study we examined if such reduced foraging activity exists for a social insect, the invasive fire ant Solenopsis invicta, and its viral pathogen, Solenopsis invicta virus 1 (SINV-1). Virus-free fire ant colonies were split into two colony fragments, one of which subsequently was inoculated with SINV-1. Four food resources with different macronutrient ratios were presented to both colony fragments. SINV-1-inoculated colony fragments consistently displayed reduced foraging performance (e.g., foraging intensity and recruitment efficiency), a decline in lipid intake, and a shift in dietary preference to carbohydrate-rich foods compared with virus-free fragments. These findings provide the first evidence for virus-induced behavioral responses and dietary shifts in shaping the host-pathogen interactions in fire ants. The findings also suggest a possible mechanism for how fire ant colonies respond to viral epidemics. Potential implications of these behavioral differences for current management strategies are discussed.