Degree of Threat: Medium
Comments: Declines may be related to the spread of fire ants, use of insecticides to control fire ants, heavy agricultural use of land and/or other habitat alterations, and overcollecting for the pet and curio trade (Price 1990, Carpenter et al. 1993, Donaldson et al. 1994).
This species is extremely vulnerable to changes in habitat, especially the loss of harvester ants (Carpenter et al. 1993). Harvester ants comprise up to 69% of the diet (Pianka and Parker 1975), and fire ants are thought to out-compete native harvester ants for food and space (Henke and Fair 1998). This threat may be significant in parts of Texas but probably not elsewhere. Intensive agriculture (plowing) could destroy adults and their eggs (Carpenter et al. 1993, Donaldson et al. 1994) but, according to Henke and Fair (1998), reports of declines due to loss of habitat caused by urbanization, suburban sprawl, and conversion of native rangeland to agricultural crops are mostly unsubstantiated (Henke and Fair 1998).
The widespread use of broadcast insecticides is also thought to contribute to declines. Insecticides can be detrimental by directly causing illness or death or indirectly by severely reducing or eliminating harvester ants (Henke and Fair 1998).
In the past, this lizard was collected for the pet trade, by boy scout troops for trading at jamborees, for the curio trade, and by tourists (Donaldson et al. 1994, Henke and Fair 1998).
Mortality from road traffic is an important local threat in some areas. Males are particularly vulnerable during May-June in Arizona-New Mexico (Sherbrooke 2002). A high level of road mortality may lead to significant local declines.
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