Phenology and parasitism rates in introduced populations of Pseudacteon tricuspis, a parasitoid of Solenopsis invicta

  • Morrison L
  • Porter S
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We documented patterns of seasonal abundance and rates of parasitism in introduced populations of Pseudacteon tricuspis Borgmeier, a phorid parasitoid of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. Adult P. tricuspis populations were censused at monthly intervals for 1 year at three sites in northern Florida. Censuses were conducted by aspirating phorids attracted to disturbed S. invicta mounds. Pseudacteon tricuspis adults were present in every month at all sites, although abundances varied greatly among sites and over time. The highest densities of flies (up to 453 censused at 10 disturbed S. invicta mounds in 30 min) were observed in November, and changes in abundance over time were positively correlated among sites. Sex ratios were usually male biased. Parasitism rates were evaluated by collecting workers from field colonies and monitoring them in the laboratory for evidence of parasitism. Parasitism rates were very low - always less than 1%. The average parasitism rate per colony over 16 colonies and 2 years was 0.058%. No pupariation occurred within the first 8 days of collection, suggesting parasitism by P. tricuspis induced behavioral changes in parasitized workers that precluded such workers from our collections. If so, true field parasitism rates may be several times higher than measured here, yet still low in an absolute sense. These low parasitism rates can be reconciled with observed adult phorid densities by considering the large number of host ants present at the study sites.

Author-supplied keywords

  • biological control
  • parasitism
  • parasitoid
  • phenology
  • pseudacteon tricuspis

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  • Lloyd W Morrison

  • Sanford D Porter

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