Submitted to: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/16/2006
Publication Date: 1/15/2006
Citation: Chen, J. 2006. Qualitative profile of ant-derived chemicals in nests constructed with silica gel by the red imported fire ants. Journal of Chemical Ecology.
Interpretive Summary: Red imported fire ants are a significant agricultural and medical pest, causing more than a 6 billion dollars annual loss in the United States. Imported fire ants are a nest-building ant species that builds nests by excavating soil. Ants were found to incorporate ant-derived chemicals into the nest material. A series of ant-derived chemicals were identified using a novel experimental method. Some of these chemicals may be useful in improving efficacy and stability of fire ant bait formulations.
Technical Abstract: Red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, build nests by excavating soil. Incorporation of ant-derived chemicals in nesting material has long been known, however only a few chemicals have been identified. This paucity of identified ant-derived chemicals may be due to the interference from soil-borne compounds in chemical analysis. Red imported fire ants were able to build their nest using moistened silica gel as the only building material under the laboratory condition. This provided an opportunity to establish a profile of ant-derived chemicals in nest material without the presence of any soil borne interference chemicals. A new method for profiling ant-derived chemicals in nest material using GC-MS was developed. All samples contained cuticular hydrocarbons and venom alkaloids. Phosphoric acid, glycerol, lactic acid and malonic acid were identified from samples collected inside the nest.