Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2007
Publication Date: 3/1/2007
Citation: Valles, S.M., Porter, S.D. 2007. Pseudacteon decapitating flies: potential vectors of a fire ant virus?. Florida Entomologist. 90(1):268-270. Interpretive Summary: The red imported fire ant was introduced into the United States in the 1930s and currently infests about 300 million acres. It causes significant economic losses in livestock and agricultural production and poses a serious threat to human health. Recently, through bioinformatics analysis of fire ant gene data, USDA-ARS scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (Gainesville, FL) had discovered a new RNA virus that may prove to be a useful biocontrol agent against the invasive red imported fire ant. A number of questions concerning the new virus must be investigated in order properly utilize it as a control agent. One of the most important questions is how does the virus spread from colony to colony in the field. Therefore, USDA-ARS scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (Gainesville, FL) have evaluated the potential for the decapitating flies in the Pseudacteon genus to harbor and/or vector the virus. Results indicated that the Pseudacteon flies evaluated probably do not act as vectors of the fire ant virus.
Technical Abstract: Laboratory and field experiments were conducted with Psuedacteon decapitating flies to determine whether these parasitoids could sustain a Solenopsis invicta virus (SINV) infection and possibly play a role in vectoring this virus. SINV was not detectable by RT-PCR in flies (P. obtusus and P. litoralis) that were collected attacking infected workers or in flies that completed their larval development in SINV-infected fire ant workers. SINV was also not detected in P. curvatus collected from field areas with a high incidence of SINV. The absence of traces of SINV in both species of flies, including those that developed in infected ants and those that attacked infected ants, supports the notion that these flies are not vectors of this virus.