The leaf-cutting ants Atta sexdens (L.) and Atta laevigata (Smith) constitute serious pests of agriculture and forestry in Brazil. These ants are parasitized by the phorids Neodohrniphora tonhascai Brown and Neodohrniphora erthali Brown (Diptera: Phoridae), respectively. The parasitic potential of N. tonhascai against its host has been previously investigated, but no equivalent information is available for N. erthali. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the oviposition behavior and some biological characteristics of N. erthali in relation to its host and to determine the parasitic potential of N. tonhascai against A. laevigata, considering that in many parts of southeastern Brazil nests of A. sexdens and A. laevigata are found in close proximity of each other. These data were obtained from female N. erthali and N. tonhascai collected in the field in Viçosa (Minas Gerais State) and released singly in an observation chamber placed between a laboratory nest of A. laevigata and its foraging arena. Neodohrniphora tonhascai took less time selecting its hosts, attacked more ants and had greater rate of parasitism in relation to N. erthali. We could not establish whether A. laevigata is parasitized by N. tonhascai in the field, but the reproductive success of N. tonhascai in the laboratory demonstrated that A. laevigata is a suitable host to this parasitoid. The types of defense displayed by A. laevigata against both phorid species were markedly different, and these results suggest that foragers take specific defensive steps in order to reduce the possibility of parasitism by phorid flies.
Attini; Neodohrniphora tonhascai; Neodohrniphora erthali; parasitoid; biological control