Journal of Insect Science (2011) 11 (19), 1-25

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Anne-Marie A. Callcott, Sanford D. Porter, Ronald D. Weeks Jr., L.C. (Fudd) Graham, Seth J. Johnson and Lawrence E. Gilbert (2011)
Fire ant decapitating fly cooperative release programs (1994-2008): Two Pseudacteon species, P. tricuspis and P. curvatus, rapidly expand across imported fire ant populations in the southeastern United States
Journal of Insect Science 11 (19), 1-25
Abstract: Natural enemies of the imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren S. richteri Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), and their hybrid, include a suite of more than 20 fire ant decapitating phorid flies from South America in the genus Pseudacteon. Over the past 12 years, many researchers and associates have cooperated in introducing several species as classical or self-sustaining biological control agents in the United States. As a result, two species of flies, Pseudacteon tricuspis Borgmeier and P. curvatus Borgmeier (Diptera: Phoridae), are well established across large areas of the southeastern United States. Whereas many researchers have published local and state information about the establishment and spread of these flies, here distribution data from both published and unpublished sources has been compiled for the entire United States with the goal of presenting confirmed and probable distributions as of the fall of 2008. Documented rates of expansion were also used to predict the distribution of these flies three years later in the fall of 2011. In the fall of 2008, eleven years after the first successful release, we estimate that P. tricuspis covered about 50% of the fire ant quarantined area and that it will occur in almost 65% of the quarantine area by 2011. Complete coverage of the fire ant quarantined area will be delayed or limited by this species' slow rate of spread and frequent failure to establish in more northerly portions of the fire ant range and also, perhaps, by its preference for red imported fire ants (S. invicta). Eight years after the first successful release of P. curvatus, two biotypes of this species (one biotype occurring predominantly in the black and hybrid imported fire ants and the other occurring in red imported fire ants) covered almost 60% of the fire ant quarantined area. We estimate these two biotypes will cover almost 90% of the quarantine area by 2011 and 100% by 2012 or 2013. Strategic selection of several distributional gaps for future releases will accelerate complete coverage of quarantine areas. However, some gaps may be best used for the release of additional species of decapitating flies because establishment rates may be higher in areas without competing species.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Full text of article
Database assignments for author(s): Sanford D. Porter, Lawrence E. Gilbert

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
classical biocontrol/new introduction

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Solenopsis invicta U.S.A. (mid S)
Solenopsis invicta U.S.A. (SE)
Pseudacteon tricuspis (parasitoid) Solenopsis invicta U.S.A. (mid S)
Pseudacteon tricuspis (parasitoid) Solenopsis invicta U.S.A. (SE)
Pseudacteon curvatus (parasitoid) Solenopsis invicta U.S.A. (mid S)
Pseudacteon curvatus (parasitoid) Solenopsis invicta U.S.A. (SE)