Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences


Willson, J. D

Committee Member/Reader

Wood, Lisa

Committee Member/Second Reader

DeGregorio, Brett


Invasive species cause major ecological and economic damage. The Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA; Solenopsis invicta) has successfully invaded much of the southeastern United States and has caused both widespread economic damage and is suspected to be the driver of enigmatic declines of several oviparous snake species. This study aimed to determine the sublethal effects of RIFA on hatchlings of six species of oviparous snakes (Coluber constrictor, Lampropeltis calligaster, L. holbrooki, Opheodrys aestivus, Pantherophis emoryi, and P. obsoletus) by exposing hatchlings to envenomation by RIFA and then measuring two performance metrics: righting response and swimming speed. We found a slight effect of envenomation on righting response that did not differ among species, but no significant effect of envenomation on swimming speed. However, we found a strongly significant effect of species on both performance metrics, suggesting that different species may have different responses when envenomated. This study provides as a baseline to further explore the impact of RIFA on native reptiles.


Invasive species, oviparous snakes, red imported fire ant, envenomation, performance measures