Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department


First Advisor

M. B. Hayn

Second Advisor

G. R. Carmen

Third Advisor

John W. Dick


Field tests to monitor food transfer between mounds of the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, using rubidium as a market were designed. Also, tests were designed to monitor food transfer between the different adult and immature castes of the fire ant. Ants in mounds tagged with rubidium bait demonstrated higher levels of rubidium than those of adjacent mounds. Variations in bait formulations and ashing procedures did not affect the rubidium levels recorded in the ants. Different levels were observed from each mound. Levels were proportionate between the ants in each mound. Minor workers exhibited the highest levels of all ant forms. Additional studies showed naturally occuring rubidium in soil samples at levels equal to those in some control and treated ants. Collection methods and control checks were devised to further define the problem associated with rubidium tagging. Results were variable and indicated a limited usefulness of rubidium for tagging fire ants. Laboratory tests were carried out to demonstrate the effectiveness of rubidium in monitoring food transfer. Two and four day duration tests were conducted to observe if time effected rubidium levels occuring in the ants. Results from these tests were variable. Further testing showed that as rubidium concerntrations in the baits were increased, levels in the ants also increased. Detrimental effects were observed in ants exposed to 10,000 ppm rubidium chloride and higher. Protein concentrations of whole ants were highest in the female reproductives followed by, in decreasing concentrations, the pupae, larvae, male reproductives, minor workers, and lastly, the major workers. The larvae and pupae exhibited a concentration of cathodic protein bands in the gels. The larvae also showed anodic protein bands. Isoelectric points of the pupal samples demonstrated a neutral to alkaline tendency. The larval samples demonstrated an alkaline to acidic tendency. The adult workers showed a neutral to acidic tendency. All adults except the female reproductives showed a drastic decrease in the protein concentration of the abdomen. Few bands were observed in the gels of these abdomens. Protein concentration in the minor workers was greatest in the thorax followed by the head. The male reproductive showed a similar pattern. The head of the major worker exhivited a slightly higher protein concentration than the thorax. In female reproductives protein concentrations were similar in all three body section, with the exception of the thorax which demonstrated a slightly higher concentration. The iso-electric point tendencies of proteins in the male and female reproductives ranged from alkaline to acidic, although the abdomen sample of the male reproductives was similar to those of adult workers. Starvation tests showed a decrease in protein concentrations from those tests using healthy ants. Gels of the starved ants showed more portein bands, but these were less distinct than those of the healthy ants. Greater percentages of iso-electric point proteins were observed in the densitometric scans of these starved ants. Amino acid studies revealed the presence of 17 amion acids of ammonia. THe total concentrations of these amino acids were greatest in the larval form followed by, in decreasing concentrations, the pupae, the female reproductives, male reproductives, minor workers, and major workers. Gultamic and aspartic acid, proline, glycine, tyrosine, arginine, lysine, leucine, and valine were demonstrated to be in higher concentrations. Methionine, phenylalanine, cystine, histidine, and serine were found at low concetrations. Ammonia concentrations were present in all ant forms. The female reproductive demonstrated a nine-fold increase in ammonia compared to the other ant forms.