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Volume 2013, Article ID 538316, 9 pages
Review Article

Review and Phylogenetic Evaluation of Associations between Microdontinae (Diptera: Syrphidae) and Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, European Invertebrate Survey, P.O. Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands

Received 11 February 2013; Accepted 21 March 2013

Academic Editor: Jean-Paul Lachaud

Copyright © 2013 Menno Reemer. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The immature stages of hoverflies of the subfamily Microdontinae (Diptera: Syrphidae) develop in ant nests, as predators of the ant brood. The present paper reviews published and unpublished records of associations of Microdontinae with ants, in order to discuss the following questions. (1) Are all Microdontinae associated with ants? (2) Are Microdontinae associated with all ants? (3) Are particular clades of Microdontinae associated with particular clades of ants? (4) Are Microdontinae associated with other insects? A total number of 109 associations between the groups are evaluated, relating to 43 species of Microdontinae belonging to 14 genera, and to at least 69 species of ants belonging to 24 genera and five subfamilies. The taxa of Microdontinae found in association with ants occur scattered throughout their phylogenetic tree. One of the supposedly most basal taxa (Mixogaster) is associated with ants, suggesting that associations with ants evolved early in the history of the subfamily and have remained a predominant feature of their lifestyle. Among ants, associations with Microdontinae are known from subfamilies Ponerinae, Dolichoderinae, Formicinae, Myrmicinae, and Pseudomyrmecinae. These subfamilies comprise more than 95% of all ant species. Interestingly, no associations are known with “dorylomorph” ants (army ants and relatives).