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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT OF IMPORTED FIRE ANTS AND EMERGING URBAN PEST PROBLEMS

Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects

Title: Presence of the fire ant pathogen Kneallhazia solenopsae in fire ant decapitating phorid flies

Authors
item OI, DAVID
item PORTER, SANFORD
item VALLES, STEVEN
item Briano, Juan -
item Calcaterra, Luis -

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 31, 2009
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Pathogens and parasites from South America are being evaluated for the biological control of imported fire ants in the U.S. Fire ant decapitating flies that developed in fire ants infected with the fire ant pathogen Kneallhazia (formerly Thelohania) solenopsae also acquired the pathogen. K. solenopsae was found in 51% of pooled samples, which included three species of flies: Pseudacteon obtusus, Pseudacteon cultellatus, and Pseudacteon curvatus. P. curvatus samples were collected from the field in Florida. This is the first report of a fire ant pathogen being detected in another fire ant biocontrol agent. K. solenopsae was not detected in any of the hovering or ovipositing flies in laboratory exposures, indicating no mechanical acquisition of the pathogen occurred during oviposition activity. Greater than 92% of the P. obtusus that developed in K. solenopsae-infected ants survived and emerged as adults. These preliminary observations indicated there were no detrimental effects of the pathogen on the flies. The finding of K. solenopsae in apparently healthy flies offers the possibility that the flies can transmit K. solenopsae, and perhaps facilitate the spread of the disease among fire ant populations.

Technical Abstract: Pathogens and parasites from South America are being evaluated for the biological control of imported fire ants in the U.S. Fire ant decapitating flies that developed in fire ants infected with the fire ant pathogen Kneallhazia (formerly Thelohania) solenopsae also acquired the pathogen. K. solenopsae was found in 51% of pooled samples, which included three species of flies: Pseudacteon obtusus, Pseudacteon cultellatus, and Pseudacteon curvatus. P. curvatus samples were collected from the field in Florida. This is the first report of a fire ant pathogen being detected in another fire ant biocontrol agent. K. solenopsae was not detected in any of the hovering or ovipositing flies in laboratory exposures, indicating no mechanical acquisition of the pathogen occurred during oviposition activity. Greater than 92% of the P. obtusus that developed in K. solenopsae-infected ants survived and emerged as adults. These preliminary observations indicated there were no detrimental effects of the pathogen on the flies. The finding of K. solenopsae in apparently healthy flies offers the possibility that the flies can transmit K. solenopsae, and perhaps facilitate the spread of the disease among fire ant populations.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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