Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Paper

Survey of Neodohrniphora spp. (Diptera: Phoridae) at colonies of Atta sexdens rubropilosa (FOREL) and specificity of attack behaviour in relation to their hosts

V.S.G. Silvaa1 c1, O. Baileza1, A.M. Viana-Baileza1, A. Tonhasca Jra2 and T.M. Castro Della Luciaa3

a1 Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro, Centro de Ciências e Tecnologias Agropecuárias, Laboratório de Entomologia e Fitopatologia, Av. Alberto Lamego 2000-Horto, Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ, Brazil

a2 Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), 2 Anderson Place, Edinburgh EHG 5 NP, UK

a3 Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Departamento de Biologia Animal. 36571-000, Viçosa, MG, Brazil


Atta sexdens rubropilosa is a leaf-cutting ant that is a significant agricultural and forestry pest in the Neotropical region. This ant is parasitized by flies from the genera Neodohrniphora spp., Apocephalus spp. and Myrmosicarius spp. This study was carried out to determine which species of Neodohrniphora spp. are found near foraging trails of Atta sexdens rubropilosa and to evaluate the specificity of attack behaviour of these parasitoids. From May 2002 to April 2004, we sampled Neodohrniphora spp. hovering over foraging trails of Atta sexdens rubropilosa between 8:00 and 11:00 h and between 15:00 and 18:00 h. To investigate the attacking behaviour against the ants, flies were released individually inside an observation chamber containing a single leaf-cutting ant worker. Each parasitoid was confronted successively with a worker ant of A. sexdens rubropilosa, Atta laevigata Smith, Acromyrmex crassispinus Forel and Acromyrmex subterraneus molestans Santschi. Phorids of three species were identified: Neodohrniphora elongata Brown, Neodohrniphora declinata Borgmeier and Neodohrniphora tonhascai Brown. The three phorid species were active throughout the year and often along the same foraging trails, but N. elongata was the most frequent species. In the laboratory assay, N. elongata, N. declinata and N. tonhascai attacked workers of A. sexdens rubropilosa, A. laevigata and A. crassispinus, but not of A. subterraneus molestans.

(Accepted July 04 2007)


c1 Author for correspondence Fax: +55 22 27261658 E-mail: vgazal@uenf.br