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Stephen Luk | all galleries >> Field Entomology in Ecuador >> Yasuní National Park (2009) >> Insects of Ecuador I >> Diptera of Ecuador > Bullet Ant Parasitoid, Apocephalus paraponerae complex (Phoridae)
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Bullet Ant Parasitoid, Apocephalus paraponerae complex (Phoridae)

Bullet Ant Parasitoid, Apocephalus paraponerae complex (Phoridae)

Yasuní National Park, Prov. Orellana, Ecuador

Apocephalus paraponerae is a phorid fly parasitoid of the bullet ant (Paraponera clavata). These flies locate injured workers by detecting the alarm pheromones 4-methyl-3-heptanone and 4-methyl-3-heptanol released by the victim's mandibular gland. Males feed on body fluids while females feed and oviposit. (Brown & Feener 1991)

Morehead et al. (2001) suggested that A. paraponerae is a complex of several species that differentially detect and attack P. clavata, Ectatomma and Pachycondyla. This and the following image demonstrates a field experiment for the "real" A. paraponerae. A P. clavata worker was captured, crushed and placed on a leaf and the time to phorid arrival was measured. Results were nearly instantaneous - a female A. paraponerae appeared within five seconds, followed shortly by a male. Although the P. clavata alarm pheromones is a powerful cue, the fly's rapid arrival may also reflect a high density of ants and parasitoids. Frequent intercolonial disputes increases the number of injured ants and therefore the number of parasitoids (Brown & Feener, 1991).

Brown, B.V., and Feener Jr., D.H. 1991. Behavior and host location cues of Apocephalis paraponerae (Diptera: Phoridae), a parasitoid of the giant tropical ant, Paraponera clavata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Biotropica 23(2):182-187.
Morehead, S.A., Seger, J., Feener Jr., D.H., and Brown, B.V. 2001. Evidence for a cryptic species complex in the ant parasitoid Apocephalus paraponerae (Diptera: Phoridae). Evol. Ecol. Res. 3:273-284.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi
1/125s f/11.0 at 100.0mm iso200 full exif

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Geoionela11-Dec-2010 21:01
Amazing macro! Fabulous image!
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