Methods to mark termites with protein for mark-release-recapture and mark-capture type studies

J. R. Hagler, P. B. Baker, R. Marchosky, S. A. Machtley, D. E. Bellamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Studies were conducted to investigate the feasibility of marking the southwestern desert subterranean termite, Heterotermes aureus (Snyder), with rabbit immunoglobulin G (IgG) protein for mark-release-recapture (MRR) and mark-capture type studies. Qualitative laboratory studies were conducted to determine how long reagent-grade rabbit IgG is retained on or in H. aureus that were marked either externally with a topical spray, internally by feeding them a rabbit IgG-marked food source, or both internally and externally (double marked). Marked termites were detected by an anti-rabbit IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Data indicated that the termites retained the mark for at least 35 days, regardless of the marking procedure. A second series of laboratory studies were conducted to determine how fast H. aureus acquire the mark after feeding on cardboard bait that was either sprayed or soaked in different formulations of rabbit IgG. The IgGs tested were a highly purified and costly reagent grade IgG at 5.0 mg/ml and a less pure and less costly technical grade rabbit IgG at 1.0 mg/ml. The results showed that termites acquired both marks equally well after exposure to the soaked cardboard treatment. The advantages and limitations of protein marking termites with rabbit IgG for MRR or mark-capture termite studies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-220
Number of pages8
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009



  • Heterotermes aureus
  • Protein marking
  • Rabbit IgG
  • Trophallaxis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science

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