Ecological interactions of Pseudacteon parasitoids and Solenopsis ant hosts: Environmental correlates of activity and effects on competitive hierarchies


1. Solenopsis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) fire ants are host to Pseudacteon (Diptera: Phoridae) parasitoids. The activity of S. geminata (F.) hosts and relative abundance of Pseudacteon phorids, along with five environmental variables, were measured at weekly intervals over an 8-month period at two sites. 2. Pseudacteon relative abundances often varied greatly from week to week, and were only weakly positively correlated with S. geminata activity. 3. A quadratic function of soil temperature was the single best predictor of ant activity at both sites, explaining 32 and 73% of the variation in ant activity. A linear function of soil moisture was the single best predictor of phorid relative abundance at one site (r = 0.23) whereas no measured variables were significant predictors of phorid relative abundance at the other site. 4. Interspecific interactions at 600 baits were monitored at a third site to document dominance hierarchies and determine whether the presence of Pseudacteon phorids mediated interspecific interactions in their host, S. geminata. 5. Solenopsis geminata was near the top of dominance hierarchies, which did not diverge greatly from a linear pattern. Three species (S. geminata, S. invicta Buren, and Crematogaster laeviuscula Mayr) won the majority of their interspecific interactions and appear to be co-dominants at this microhabitat-rich site. 6. Overall, the presence of phorids had no significant effect on the outcome of interspecific contests involving S. geminata and all other ant species grouped together. Phorids may have contributed to some of the S. geminata losses against other co-dominant species. 2

Document Type





Biological control, Dominance hierarchy, Formicidae, Interspecific competition, Parasitism, Parasitoid, Phoridae, Pseudacteon, Solenopsis

Publication Date


Journal Title

Ecological Entomology