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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Field Releases of the Decapitating Fly Pseudateon Curvatus (Diptera: Phoridae) for Control of Imported Fire Ants ( Hymenoptera: Formicidaes) in Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee

Authors
item Graham, L. - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Porter, Sanford
item Pereira, Roberto
item Dorough, Henry - ALABAMA COOP EXT SYSTEM
item Kelley, Amber - MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 19, 2003
Publication Date: December 15, 2003
Citation: Graham, L.C., Porter, S.D., Pereira, R.M., Dorough, H.D., Kelley, A.T. 2003. Field releases of the decapitating fly Pseudateon curvatus (Diptera: Phoridae) for control of imported fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidaes) in Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. Florida Entomologist. 86(3):334-339.

Interpretive Summary: Scientists associated with the University of Auburn, Alabama and the USDA's Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida released the little decapitating fly Pseudacteon curvatus at 11 sites in Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee as a potential self-sustaining biocontrol agent of imported fire ants. We used a variety from Buenos Aires Province, Argentina that parasitized black fire ants. This fly was successfully established on hybrid fire ants (red x black) at a site near Talladega, Alabama where they have persisted more than two years and expanded 3-12 miles out from the original release site. Although a few 1st-generation field-reared flies were recovered at four sites in Florida, flies failed to establish at the other sites. The establishment of this fly is important because this it is only the second classical biocontrol agent to be successfully released against imported fire ants in the United States. Successful establishment of this fly and other classical biological control agents will hopefully permanently reduce fire ant populations in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. Permanent reductions of fire ant populations in these states would be of great benefit to thousands of farmers and millions of other residents.

Technical Abstract: The little decapitating fly, Pseudacteon curvatus Borgmeier, was released at 11 sites in Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee as a potential self-sustaining biocontrol agent of imported fire ants. We used a biotype from Buenos Aires Province, Argentina that parasitizes black fire ants (Solenopsis richteri Forel). Generally, several thousand flies were released as larvae in parasitized ant workers over a 1-2 week period. Pseudacteon curvatus flies were successfully established on hybrid fire ants (Solenopsis invicta X Solenopsis richteri) at a site near Talladega, Alabama where they have persisted more than two years and expanded out 5-20 km from the original release site. Although a few 1st-generation field-reared flies were recovered at four sites in Florida, flies failed to establish at the other sites. This fly is only the second classical biocontrol agent to be successfully released against imported fire ants or any other pest ant species. Possible reasons for failures at the other sites include insufficient vegetation cover, competition with another Pseudacteon species in Florida, severe winter kill of ants at a site in Tennessee, and the possibility that the biotype of P. curvatus released was not a viable parasitoid of red imported fire ants.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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