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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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decapitating flies
USDA Agricultural Research Services Web site on area wide suppression of fire ants.


Decapitating flies

Decapitating flies not only remove ants heads, they weaken colonies because remaining ants - trying to avoid fly attack - stop looking for food outside their nest.

Female flies are released near mounds, attack ants, and lay eggs inside them.  The egg hatches into a tiny maggot that burrows into the ant head.
1. Female flies are released near mounds, attack
ants, and lay eggs inside them. The egg hatches
into a tiny maggot that burrows into the ant head.
Inside the head, the maggot causes the fire ant head to fall off, killing the ant.
2. Inside the head, the maggot causes the fire ant
head to fall off, killing the ant.

The maggot pupates inside the head, and the adult fly squeezes out the ant's mouth.
3. The maggot pupates inside the head, and the
adult fly squeezes out the ant's mouth.
Each newly emerged female fly can attack and kill 200 to 300 more ants.
4. Each newly emerged female fly can attack
and kill 200 to 300 more ants.

Remaining fire ants (arrow) hide to avoid attack by flies (circle). When ants hide, their colony starves and weakens, so ant infestations do not spread.
5. Remaining fire ants (arrow) hide to avoid attack
by flies (circle). When ants hide, their colony starves
and weakens, so ant infestations do not spread.

Adult female Pseudacteon tricuspis, a phorid fly, with two views of her ovipositor.
Adult female Pseudacteon tricuspis, a phorid fly, with two views of her ovipositor.
Adult female Pseudacteon curvatus, a phorid fly, with two views of her ovipositor.
Adult female Pseudacteon curvatus, a phorid fly, with two views of her ovipositor.

Map of the southern United States showing where established populations of Pseudacteon tricuspis are confirmed.
Distribution of Pseudacteon tricuspis in southern United States.
Map of the southern United States showing where established populations of Pseudacteon curvatus are confirmed.
Distribution of Pseudacteon curvatus in southern United States.

Adult female Pseudacteon litoralis, a phorid fly, with view of her ovipositor.
Adult female Pseudacteon litoralis, a phorid fly, with view of her ovipositor.
Adult female Pseudacteon obtusus, a phorid fly, with view of her ovipositor.
Adult female Pseudacteon obtusus, a phorid fly, with view of her ovipositor.


Areawide Suppression of Fire Ants main menu

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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