Decapitating fire ant fly
What’d the decapitating fly say to the nervous fire ant? “Hey, don’t lose your head.”
Fire ants may be the official pest of Texas. For over a century now they have invaded ranches, yards, campgrounds and they even march into homes. They swarm, bite, sting and inflict pain, allergic reactions, itches and even make you dance like a maniac and shake your legs after you step on a mound.

Long story short, they are terrible.

But what if you could get revenge on fire ants without using any insecticide, chemicals, sprays or man-made treatment at all? And do so rather gruesomely?

Meet Pseudacteon tricuspis and curvatus — two fly species that don’t gather around rotting meat or vegetables and have no interest in bothering people or animals.

Instead they “head” straight for fire ants. And apparently they hold an epic grudge against the ants. So much so that fire ants may actually prefer poison or bait if given the choice.

The decapitating fly has an appropriate nickname. It hovers over fire ant mounds when ants are active and attacks foraging worker ants. It lands, quickly deposits an egg into the ant’s body, and soon the fly larva moves into the head. As it develops it releases an enzyme that weakens the membranes holding the ant exoskeleton together, and after a few nibbles here and there … pop goes the weasel. Meet the Headless Ant. Ichabod Crane has nothing on it.

It almost makes you feel sorry for fire ants.

But if like most Austinites and Texans everywhere, your fire ant frustration outweighs any sympathy, you’d be happy to adopt some flies. Or maybe just threaten the mound with a handful of P. Tricuspis — and the next thing you know the ants may just get up and move out on their own.

If that doesn’t work — or you prefer an alternative to the horror movie tactic of the “Off with your head” flies — give us a call.

We provide people and pet-friendly treatments for fire ants. Call 512-443-0123 or fill out our fire ant treatment request form.

Photograph by Scott Bauer via USDA-ARS.