Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #394834

Research Project: Management of Fire Ants and Other Invasive Ants

Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research

Title: Electrically stimulated fire ants release chemical cues that attract parasitic decapitating flies

item Vander Meer, Robert - Bob
item PORTER, SANFORD - Retired ARS Employee

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/19/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: A series of bioassays demonstrated that electrically stimulated ants are much more attractive to decapitating flies than unstimulated ants. We also found that physically shaken ants are highly attractive to the flies and that this attractiveness disappears rapidly over time – characteristic of the ephemeral nature of the fire ant alarm pheromone. We tested extracts of the poison sac and the Dufour's gland to determine if chemicals in these glands were attractive to the flies. Finally, we conducted a test to see if periodic electrical stimulation of fire ant workers in large attack chambers could be used to improve mass production rates in laboratory colonies used for field release of these flies as fire ant biocontrol agents. The information provided by these bioassays demonstrates that chemical cues are the primary way Pseudacteon flies locate their hosts and helps explain why these flies are highly host specific. Our results demonstrate that electrical stimulation of host worker ants can improve field detection and collection, host specificity testing, and importantly, mass rearing of Pseudacteon flies for release as fire ant biocontrol agents.