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Biological control of fire ants with parasitoid flies

For more than a decade, researchers at FuEDEI have been collaborating with the United States on the control of these ants with small flies from Argentina.

news_001A parasitoid fly ready to parasitize a Solenopsis invicta worker (Photo: S. Porter).
Since the mid 1990´s, staff of FuEDEI has intensively cooperated with Dr. Sanford Porter at the Imported Fire Ants and Household Insects Research Unit, located in Gainesville, Florida, USA, surveying and studying the biology, ecology, and genetics of several species of Pseudacteon parasitoid flies in Argentina. These flies lay eggs internally in the thorax of worker ants; the larvae migrate to the head, consuming the internal tissues and decapitating the ants. As consequence of this cooperative agreement, several species of flies have been exported to quarantine facilities in Gainesville for further studies on biosecurity, efficacy, and mass rearing. Between 2000 and 2010, five species and two biotypes of flies from Argentina were finally released in southeastern US for the biological control of the fire ants, Solenopsis invicta and S. richteri. Post-release studies have confirmed good establishment and distribution of most of the flies species; however, a significant effect on the ants has not been observed yet.