The use of light to enhance weaver ant Oecophylla longinoda Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) queen catches
Keywords:light source, natural predator, founding queen, Tanzania
Production of live weaver ant (Oecophylla longinoda and O. smaragdina) colonies is being developed as the ants provide several ecosystem services in agriculture and as they are used in education and research laboratories. Founding queens needed for colony production can be caught in artificial nests made of live leaves that are curled on trees. In this study we investigated if the catch rate of O. longinoda queens in artificial nests could be improved by attracting queens to trees with a light source (electric torches). We compared catch rates of 50 artificial nests on each of eight citrus trees, four of them with light and four without light. During two mating seasons covering 9 mating flights we caught a total of 178 queens. However, 3.8 times more queens were caught in the trees with light compared to trees without light. We conclude that queen catches can be highly improved by combining artificial nests with an attracting light source.
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