Tuesday, 28 October 2003

This presentation is part of : Display Presentations, Section Cb. Apiculture and Social Insects

Identification of the alarm pheromone in Solenopsis invicta

Catherine A. Preston and Robert K. Vander Meer. USDA-ARS CMAVE, Imported Fire Ants and Household Insects, 1600/1700 SW 23rd Drive, Gainesville, FL

The chemistry of ant alarm pheromones is incredibly diverse, but components generally have a molecular weight of 100-200 and have 5-10 carbons. Alarm pheromones can be terpenoids, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, nitrogen heterocycles, sulfur-containing compounds, or other types of compounds. The components are highly volatile, a necessity for a quick but highly transient information transfer. The release of alarm pheromones by an ant elicits behavior ranging from antennal movement to random quick, erratic movements that may or may not be directed toward the source of the signal. We have developed an alarm pheromone bioassay that categorizes fire ant alarm pheromone responses on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 indicating no response; 2, some attenation; 3, one to three workers running out of the resting group; or 4, several workers running erratically from the resting group. Behavioral bioassays indicate that the alarm pheromone is likely located in mandibular gland. Additionally, two species of parasitic phorid flies, Pseudacteon tricuspis and Pseudacteon curvatus, utilize the alarm pheromone to locate their S. invicta hosts. Identification of the fire ant alarm pheromone is important because it may be useful for bait enhancement, both for S. invicta as well as its enemies. GC-MS was used to investigate the identity of the active compound(s).

Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Solenopsis invicta (Red Imported Fire Ant)
Keywords: volatiles, headspace analysis

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