Parasitoids deter foraging by Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in their native habitat in Brazil
The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, has invaded sites across Africa, Australia, Europe, and North America. In its introduced ranges it eliminates native ants and tends agricultural pests. Few studies have examined the ecology of Argentine ants in their native habitat. This study examined the effects of parasitoid flies, genus Pseudacteon, on the foraging behavior of Argentine ants in part of their native range in southern Brazil. Pseudacteon parasitoids commonly attacked Argentine ants, but not other ant species, in daylight at temperatures above 18°C. Argentine ants abandoned food resources and returned underground in the presence of parasitoids. Parasitoid attack rates diminished as Argentine ants retreated underground. Where parasitoids were present, Argentine ants were abundant at food resources only during times of day when parasitoids were inactive. Where parasitoids were absent, Argentine ants were abundant at food resources throughout the day. Overall, the presence of parasitoids explained observed variation in Argentine ant foraging far better than temperature, although temperature had some effect. The results suggest that Pseudacteon parasitoids inhibit the ability of Argentine ants to gather food resources in their native habitat in Brazil.
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