Leaf-cutting ants in the genus Atta F. (Formicidae, Attini) are among the most important pest arthropods in Central and South America, consuming more vegetation than any other animal group. Among the organisms attacking ants in nature, flies of the family Phoridae have been proposed as the most promising biocontrol agents for pest ants. Four phorid species, Apocephalus setitarsus Brown, Myrmosicarius brandaoi Disney, Myrmosicarius gonzalezae Disney, and Eibesfeldtphora trilobata Disney, were reared from ants collected at Atta vollenweideri Forel nests and off foraging trails in Santa Fe province in Argentina. E. trilobata attacked larger ants and had bigger adults than the other species, also exhibiting the longest developmental time. Correlations between size of hosts and size of adults, as well as between size of adults and developmental times, could be established only in some cases. No differences were found between the sizes of the hosts from which males and females emerged. The natural percentage of parasitism varied throughout the seasons and seemed to be influenced by the extreme drought affecting the study site. We discuss why all four species would be suitable candidates for integrating an assemblage of biocontrol agents against A. vollenweideri.
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Vol. 104 • No. 1