PALLAVI MOKKARALA

Masters student
 
Department of Entomology
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2475
(979) 845-4772
p0m1277@unix.tamu.edu

I am a Masters student in Entomology at Texas A&M University. As a part of the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project, Dr. Vinson and I are studying the effects of commonly used Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) baits on non-target native ants under laboratory conditions. An important consideration in the integrated management of the RIFA is to determine the impact of current management practices on the non-target native ant species, especially the competitor and predator ants that help in RIFA suppression. A number of studies conducted to assess the effects of pesticides on ants in the field, as well as in the laboratory, have resulted in contradictory observations. While on one hand it seems that fire ant baits are relatively specific for fire ants and have little influence on the population status and species composition of other ants, there are, on the other hand, many reports that claim the opposite! It is questionable that a toxicant effective against some ant species will have little effect on other species within the same genus.

The first objective of my research is to determine whether non-target ants are attracted to fire ant baits, i.e., do they pick up the baits and feed on them? The second objective is to examine the effect on (1) worker mortality, (2) egg production rate, and (3) brood rating in four ant species, as a result of one-time baiting with four fire ant baits. The ant species examined in my research include: Monomorium minimum (little black ant), Solenopsis (Diplorhoptrum) molesta (thief ant), Monomorium pharaonis (pharaoh ant), and Solenopsis invicta (RIFA). Further research in this direction (including field testing) could provide information on which organisms are at risk through the use of RIFA pesticides, and how to improve the use of insecticide baits against the fire ant while reducing the impact of these baits on native ants.

EDUCATION:

- Currently pursuing M.S. in Entomology at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA; graduating in May, 2002.
- B.S. in Agriculture at Acharya N. G. Ranga Agriclutural University, Andhra Pradesh, India; graduated in November, 1997.


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