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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Biology and Behavior of Pseudacteon Decapitating Flies (Diptera: Phoridae)that Parasitize Solenopsis Fire Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Author
item Porter, Sanford

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Gainesville, Florida, have developed a candidate biological control agent for the imported fire ant that has unusual traits. Larvae of phorid flies in the genus Pseudacteon develop and pupate inside the head of fire ant workers, causing decapitation. Flies in this genus are the subject of considerable interest because they have the potential of being used as classical biological control agents against imported fire ants in North America. This paper reviews current research efforts on their life history, attack behavior, mating behavior, host specificity, and impacts on fire ant behavior. The biogeography, community structure, and possible impacts on fire ant populations are also discussed. Field trials with this candidate biological control agent are underway in Florida.

Technical Abstract: Larvae of phorid flies in the genus Pseudacteon have the unusual habit of decapitating fire ant workers and pupating inside the empty head capsule which they use as a pupal case. Flies in this genus are the subject of considerable interest because they have the potential of being used as classical biological control agents against imported fire ants in North America. This paper details what is known and not known about their interesting life history, attack behavior, mating behavior, host specificity, and impacts on fire ant behavior. The biogeography, community structure, and possible impacts on fire ant populations are also considered.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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