Phorid Flies, Pseudacteon spp. (Diptera: Phoridae), Affect Forager Size Ratios of Red Imported Fire Ants Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Texas
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Multiple species of Pseudacteon phorid flies (Diptera: Phoridae) are currently being released throughout the southern United States to aid biological control of red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). It is anticipated that these flies will interfere with S. invicta foraging, allowing native ant assemblages to outcompete S. invicta for available resources. Numerous studies have shown a decrease in S. invicta foraging intensity when exposed to phorids. This study documents a behavioral change in phorid-exposed S. invicta colonies at a phorid release site in central Texas. Significant differences in forager size ratios were detected between phorid-exposed and phorid-absent colonies. A similar phenomenon was recently documented in the native range of these insects in South America as well. Experimental manipulation of ratios of S. invicta worker sizes has been shown to have important effects on colony success. This newly documented phorid-mediated S. invicta colony-level effect represents a significant shift in S. invicta foraging dynamics and may provide an additional mechanism by which phorids can influence S. invicta populations in their United States range.
author list (cited authors)
Puckett, R. T., & Harris, M. K.