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Purification of the Fire Ant Trail Substance


THE fire ant, Solenopsis saevissima (Fr. Smith), utilizes a trail substance as an aid in effective foraging1. Workers secrete a substance from the Dufour's gland which is deposited from the sting in the form of minute streaks. These mark a trail from a suitable food source to the nest. Workers are strongly attracted to this substance and follow the trail outward to the food source. The newly recruited workers in turn lay trails to the nest, reinforcing the original trail. The appropriate properties for effective trail substances have been discussed by Bossert and Wilson2.

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  1. Wilson, E. O., Science, 129, 643 (1959).

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  2. Bossert, W. H., and Wilson, E. O., J. Theor. Biol., 5, 443 (1963).

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  3. Williams, C. M., and Law, J. H., J. Insect Physiol., 11, 569 (1965).

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  4. Wilson, E. O., Animal Behavior, 10, 134 (1962).

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WALSH, C., LAW, J. & WILSON, E. Purification of the Fire Ant Trail Substance. Nature 207, 320–321 (1965).

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