In southern South America, Atta vollenweideri Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is a significant pest of several crops and forestry, also considered to reduce the carrying capacity of pastures. The most usual control method used in Latin America is the application of synthetic pesticides, mainly chlorpyrifos and fipronil. However, no studies have assessed the effects of these agrochemicals on natural enemies of ants. We aimed to evaluate the efficiency of these pesticides on leaf-cutter ants' control and to test their effect on phorid fly parasitoids. Chlorpyrifos failed to exert complete control over ant colonies in the field and was gravely detrimental to specific parasitoids, reducing their percentage of parasitism, pupal survivorship, and adult longevity. Fipronil, however, exerted complete control over the treated colonies. Laboratory tests using both pesticides, either on ants from foraging trails or on pupariae, showed that chlorpyrifos and fipronil decreased larval and pupal survivorship, as well as adult longevity of parasitoids, in comparison to controls. In conclusion, these pesticides will likely affect parasitoids with regard to their reproductive capacity, leading to the decreased levels of natural parasitism observed in the field after treatments. We discuss why neither pesticide should be taken into account for integrated pest management programs.
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