Host location behavior in a parasitoid of imported fire ants


Female parasitoids use a hierarchy of cues to locate suitable hosts. We conducted a series of field observations and experiments to examine host location behavior in Pseudacteon tricuspis Borgmeier, a phorid parasitoid of Solenopsis invicta Buren worker ants. The parasitoids were frequently attracted to host workers at disturbed colonies, but were almost never attracted to host workers foraging at baits. When conspecific nonnestmate workers were introduced to baits, resulting in aggressive interactions, parasitoids appeared at the majority of baits. Moreover, larger numbers of parasitoids appeared at baits to which greater numbers of nonnestmate workers had been added. Addition of nonnestmate workers to disturbed colonies resulted in increased numbers of parasitoids attracted. Pseudacteon tricuspis did not display a pattern of uniform distribution at disturbed colonies but often was very abundant at some colony locations while absent or rare at nearby colony locations. Solenopsis invicta workers release alarm pheromones in aggressive interactions with nonnestmates, and this substance is likely an important chemical cue that attracts P. tricuspis flies to host workers from a distance.

Document Type





host location, imported fire ant, parasitoid, pheromones, Phoridae

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Insect Behavior