, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 295-304

First online:

Introduction of the fire ant decapitating fly Pseudacteon obtusus in the United States: factors influencing establishment in Texas

  • Robert M. PlowesAffiliated withBrackenridge Field Laboratory, University of Texas Email author 
  • , Edward G. LeBrunAffiliated withBrackenridge Field Laboratory, University of Texas
  • , Lawrence E. GilbertAffiliated withBrackenridge Field Laboratory, University of Texas

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The introduction and establishment of Pseudacteon obtusus Borgmeier (Diptera: Phoridae) into the United States is an important milestone in the effort to introduce a suite of parasitoids and pathogens as prospective biocontrol agents of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). P. obtusus is the fourth species of phorid fly to be established in the US and is now present in at least 11 sites in Texas. This species has a greater propensity for attacking foraging worker ants, and to a lesser degree it will attend mound disturbance events. The effectiveness of alternate field release strategies was evaluated across 28 sites in Texas, with establishment success 35 times more likely when no other phorid species were present at the outset of the releases. This result implies that competition between phorid species may interfere with establishment. Therefore release strategies should be directed to locations lacking other naturalized species or to times when abundances of other species are low.


Biocontrol Solenopsis invicta Pseudacteon obtusus Red imported fire ant Phorid fly Parasitoid