Red Imported Fire Ant Nemesis Gains Foothold in Florida

According to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and scientists who are working to control the red imported fire ant, the permanent establishment of a new species of phorid fly is bad news for the aggressive ant that has spread across the southern United States.

The establishment of the fly Pseudacteon curvatus is significant because it is the smallest of the decapitating flies and they fly attacks only fire ants. Phorid fly maggots live in the head capsules of their fire ant hosts, eventually decapitating them and pupating inside their heads. This means it can attack small worker ants, which are the most abundant workers in an ant colony.

ARS scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Fla., recently reported that they collected P. curvatus flies from a research site southwest of Gainesville, one year after the flies were initially released. This confirms the flies survived the first overwinter and have permanently established themselves within red imported fire ants in the U.S.

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