Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #173227


item Chen, Jian

Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2005
Publication Date: 10/10/2005
Citation: Chen, J. 2005. Excretion of phosphoric acid by red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenpotera: Formicidae). Environmental Entomology. pp. 1009-1012.

Interpretive Summary: Red imported fire ant is an important medical and agricultural pest ant in the United States. As a mound-building ant species, red imported fire ants extensively modify chemical properties of their nest soil, for example, they cause phosphorus enrichment in their nests. In this study, a significant amount of phosphoric acid was found in fire ant excretions. This finding is important not only in understanding the phosphorus excretion mechanism of red imported fire ants, but also in identifying the source of phosphorus enrichment in fire ant nests. Furthermore, the results of this study contribute to our knowledge in chemistry of fire ant nests, which is crucial in developing control methods using microorganisms as potential biological control agents.

Technical Abstract: Food sources, mineral redistribution and excreta are some of the ways ants enrich their mound environment. Phosphorus excretion has not been reported in red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren. Quantitative analysis of phosphoric acid was conducted on worker fecal droplets and larval anal liquid of S. invicta. Phosphoric acid was derivertized using N,O-Bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA) prior to analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The concentration of phosphoric acid was 104.16 ± 25.46 :g/mg wet weight (mean ± SD) in worker fecal droplets and 97.02 ± 1.39 :g/mg wet weight in larval anal liquid. Because the alimentary canal of red imported fire ant larvae is discontinuous, the excretory products in larval anal liquids are primarily of metabolic origin. The presence of phosphoric acid in larval anal liquid demonstrates that red imported fire ants excrete phosphoric acid.