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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #169627


item WARD, KEN
item GRAHAM, L
item Thead, Larry
item Vogt, James

Submitted to: Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2004
Publication Date: 9/14/2004
Citation: Ward, K.E., Graham, L.C., Thead, L.G., Oliver, J.B., Vogt, J.T. Release of Pseudacteon Curvatus into Black and Hybrid Imported Fire Ant Populations in Northern Alabama, Southern Tennessee and Eastern Mississippi. Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings. pp. 158-160. 2004.

Interpretive Summary: The black imported fire ant and a black imported/red imported fire ant hybrid are serious pests found in a large geographical area of the United States which includes northern Alabama, northern Mississippi and southern Tennessee. An environmentally friendly, self sustaining biological control agent and natural enemy of imported fire ants, the phorid decapitating fly was evaluated by personnel in a regional cooperative effort at USDA-ARS, BCPRU and BCMRRU, Alabama A&M University, Tennessee State University and Auburn University. Successful release, establishment and dispersal of the phorid decapitating fly was achieved in all states at multiple locations. Continued monitoring is ongoing to determine the flies' geographic spread and impact on imported fire ant populations.

Technical Abstract: Among the most promising organisms for biological control of fire ants are several species of phorid flies in the genus Pseudacteon that produce larvae that decapitate workers. A particular fly biotype imported from Argentina, Pseudacteon curvatus, strongly prefers its natural host, the black imported fire ant, and a hybrid that occurs primarily in parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. We report here an ongoing regional cooperative effort among personnel at USDA, ARS BCPRU and BCMRRU, Alabama A&M University, Auburn University and Tennessee State University to release P. curvatus in black and hybrid imported fire ant populations. Our objectives are to: (1) establish phorids in several paired release/control sites in northern AL, southern TN and eastern MS; (2) follow their geographic spread; and (3) statistically assess phorid impact on fire ant populations and native ant fauna. Fire ant mounds were collected and transported to the USDA-ARS phorid rearing facility in Starkville, MS for exposure to phorids. Colonies with parasitized workers were then returned to release sites. Areas were monitored for field reared flies within a year of release. Once flies were detected consistently, observations were expanded beyond the release site to monitor movement of flies into new areas. In order to measure phorid impact on fire ant populations, fire ant densities in control and release sites were followed; fire ant dominance was assessed using hot dog baits. Impacts on native ant species diversity were assessed using pitfall traps. All assessments were made before and after phorid establishment. Thus far, field reared phorids have been detected at 6 of 8 release sites and have spread beyond the release area at one site. There is good reason to believe that flies will be detected at the other two sites and continue to spread beyond release sites during spring/summer 2004.