Phorid flies are known to parasitize ants. The common means of parasitism, and until recently thought to be the only method, is as follows. A gravid female phorid fly seeks out foraging ants to parasitize, and most flies appear to specialize on specific species of ants or at least a group of congeners. Once found the female attacks host workers and injects eggs into their head. The egg hatches, feeds from the ant that is hosting it and eventually pupates. In many cases the fly emerges from its pupal case in such a way that it causes the ant's head to pop off.
Recently it was discovered there is another method of ant decapitation. Some adult phorids were observed sawing the heads off of injured Odontamachus ants. Presumably the ant heads are used for food by the adult flies.
|Odontomachus sp.||Dohrniphora longirostrata||Brown et al. 2015|
|Pachycondyla harpax||Metopina pachycondylae|
|Solenopsis geminata||Pseudacteon arcuatus||Pereir et al. 2015|
|Solenopsis geminata||Pseudacteon bifidus||Porter et al. 2018|
|Solenopsis geminata||Pseudacteon pesqueroi||Pereir et al. 2015|
|Solenopsis geminata||Pseudacteon plowesi||Pereir et al. 2015|
|Solenopsis saevissima||Pseudacteon fowleri||Pereir et al. 2015|
|Solenopsis saevissima||Pseudacteon pradei||Pereir et al. 2015|
|Solenopsis saevissima||Pseudacteon pesqueroi||Pereir et al. 2015|
Pereir et al. (2015) - The genus Pseudacteon Coquillett (Diptera, Phoridae) has a worldwide distribution and comprises parasitic myrmecophilous species that decapitate host ants. Seventy three species are known in the genus with 41 of them occurring in the Neotropical Region.
- Pereira, T. P. L., J. H. C. Delabie, and F. Bravo. 2015. New species and records of Pseudacteon Coquillett, 1907 (Diptera, Phoridae), parasitoids of the fire ant Solenopsis geminata group (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zootaxa. 4021:579-584.
- Porter, S. D., R. M. Plowes, and C. E. Causton. 2018. The fire ant decapitating fly, Pseudacteon bifidus (Diptera: Phoridae): host specificity and attraction to potential food items. Florida Entomologist. 101:55-60.
- Brown B, Kung G, Porras W (2015) A new type of ant-decapitation in the Phoridae (Insecta: Diptera). Biodiversity Data Journal 3: e4299. doi:10.3897/BDJ.3.e4299
- Pereira, T. P. L., J. H. C. Delabie, and F. Bravo. 2015. New species and records of Pseudacteon Coquillett, 1907 (Diptera, Phoridae), parasitoids of the fire ant Solenopsis geminata group (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zootaxa. 4021:579-584. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4021.4.8