Impact of African Weaver Ant Nests [Oecophylla longinoda Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)] on Mango [Mangifera indica L. (Sapindales: Anacardiaceae)] Leaves


  • Florence Mahouton Anato Université d'Abomey Calavi
  • Antonio Sinzogan Université d'Abomey Calavi
  • Appolinaire Adandonon Université d’Agriculture de Kétou
  • Xavier Hounlidji Université d'Abomey Calavi
  • Joachim Offenberg Aarhus University
  • Dansou K Kossou Université d’Abomey Calavi
  • Jean-François Vayssières CIRAD



weaver ants, leaf performance, biocontrol, ant nests, plant costs, Benin


Oecophylla ants are appreciated for their control of pests in plantation crops. However, the ants´ nest building may have negative impacts on trees. In this study we tested the effect of ant densities and nest building on the leaf performance of mango trees. Trees were divided into three groups: trees without ants, trees with low and trees with high ant densities. Subsequently, the total number of leaves, the proportion of leaves used for nest construction, and tree growth was compared between these groups. The percentage of leaves used for nests was between 0.42-1.2 % (mean = 0.7%±0.02) and the total number of leaves and tree growth was not significantly different between trees with and without ants. Further, leaf performance was compared between shoots with and without ant nests and between leaves in or outside ant nests. The number of leaves and lost leaves per shoot, leaf size, leaf condition (withered), leaf longevity and hemipteran infection was compared between groups. In the dry season nest-shoots held more leaves than shoots without nests despite nest-shoots showed more lost leaves. Leaves in nests were smaller than other leaves, more likely to wither and more often infested with scales. However, smaller nest-leaf size was probably due to the ants´ preference for young leaves and the higher incidence of withering resulting as leaves in nests cannot fall to the ground. In conclusion, the costs associated to ant nests were low and did not affect the overall number of leaves per tree nor tree growth.

Author Biographies

Joachim Offenberg, Aarhus University

Department of Bioscience

Jean-François Vayssières, CIRAD

UPR HortSys


Bartelink, H.H. (1997). Allometric relationships for biomass and leaf area of beech (Fagus sylvatica L). Ann. For. Sci., 54: 39-50.

Blüthgen, N. & Fiedler, K. (2002). Interactions between weaver ants Oecophylla smaragdina, homopterans, trees and lianas in an Australian rain forest canopy. J. Anim. Ecol., 71: 793–801. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2656.2002.00647.x

Buckley, R.C. (1987). Interactions involving plants, homoptera, and ants. Ann Rev Ecol Syst, 18:111-35.

Crozier, R.H., Newey, P.S., Schlüns, E.A. & Robson, S.K.A. (2010). A masterpiece of evolution – Oecophylla weaver ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News, 13: 57-71.

Dagnelie, P. (2003). Principes d’expérimentation : planification des expériences et analyse de leurs résultats. (accessed date: 15 November, 2013).

Dillwith, J.W., Berberet, R.C., Bergman, D.K., Neese, P.A., Edward, R.M. & Mcnew, R.W. (1991). Plant biochemistry and aphid populations: Studies on the spotted alfalfa aphid, Therioaphis maculata. Arch. Insect. Biochem, 17: 235–251.

Dwomoh, E.A., Afun, J.V.K., Ackonor, J.B. & Agene, V.N. (2009). Investigations on Oecophylla longinoda (Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as bio control agents in the protection of cashew plantations. Pest Manag Sci, 65: 41–46. DOI 10.1002/ps.1642

Germain J.-F., Vayssieres, J.-F., & Matile-Ferrero, D. (2010). Preliminary inventory of scale insects on mango trees in Benin. Entomologia Hellenica. 19, 124-131.

Hölldobler, B. & Wilson E.O. (1990). The ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Hölldobler, B. (1983). Territorial behaviour in the green tree ant (Oecophylla smaragdina). Biotropica, 15(4): 241–250.

Korine, C., Kalko, E.K.V. & Herre, E.A. (2000). Fruit characteristics and factors affecting fruit removal in a Panamanian community of strangler figs. Oecologia, 123: 560-568. doi: 10.1007/PL00008861

Lim, G.T., Kirton, L.G., Salom, S.M., Kok, L.T., Fell, R.D. & Pfeiffer, D.G. (2008). Mahogany shoot borer control in Malaysia and prospects for biocontrol using weaver ants. J Trop For Sci., 20: 147-155.

Offenberg, J. & Wiwatwitaya, D. (2010). Sustainable weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) farming: harvest yields and effects on worker ant density. Asian Myrmecology, 3: 55–62.

Offenberg, J. (2007). The distribution of weaver ant pheromones on host trees. Insect Soc., 54: 248 – 250. doi:10.1007/s00040-007-0938-5

Offenberg, J., Nielsen, M.G., Macintosh, D., Aksornkoae, S. & Havanon, S. (2006). Weaver Ants Increase Premature Loss of Leaves Used for Nest Construction in Rhizophora Trees. Short communication. Biotropica, 38(6) : 782–785. doi : 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2006.00206.x

Olotu, M.I., Du Plessis, H., Seguni, Z.S. & Maniania, N.K. (2013). Efficacy of the African weaver ant Oecophylla longinoda (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the control of Helopeltis spp. (Hemiptera: Miridae) and Pseudotheraptus wayi (Hemiptera: Coreidae) in cashew crop in Tanzania. Pest Manag Sci, 69: 911-918. doi: 10.1002/ps.3451.

Pandey SK, Singh H, 2011. A Simple, Cost-Effective Method for Leaf Area Estimation. Journal of Botany. doi:10.1155/2011/658240

Peng, R.K. & Christian, K. (2004). The weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), an effective biological control agent of the red-banded thrips, Selenothrips rubrocinctus (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) in mango crops in the Northern Territory of Australia. Int. J. Pest. Manage, 50: 107–114. DOI:10.1080/09670870410001658125

Peng, R.K. & Christian, K. (2005). The control efficacy of the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), on the mango leafhopper, Idioscopus nitidulus (Hemiptera: Cicadellidea) in mango orchards in the Northern Territory. Int. J. Pest. Manage, 51: 297-304. doi: 10.1080/09670870500151689

Riedell, W.E. & Blackmer, T.M. (1999). Leaf reflectance spectra of cereal aphid-damaged wheat. Crop. Sci., 39: 1835–1840.

Sinzogan, A.A.C., Van Mele, P. & Vayssières J-F. (2008). Implications of on-farm research for local knowledge related to fruit flies and the weaver ant Oecophylla longinoda in mango production. Int. J. Pest. Manage., 54: 241-246. doi:10.1080/09670870802014940

Styrsky, D.J. & Eubanks, M.D. (2007). Ecological consequences of interactions between ants and honeydew-producing insects. Proc. R. Soc. B., 274: 151–164. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3701

Swenson, N.G. & Enquist, B.J. (2008). The relationship between stem and branch wood specific gravity and the ability of each measure to predict leaf area. Am. J. Bo., 95: 516–519. doi:10.3732/ajb.95.4.516

Tinkeu, L.N., Ladang, D., Vayssières, J-F. & Lyannaz, J.P. (2010). Diversité des espèces de mouches des fruits (Diptera : Tephritidae) dans un verger mixte dans la localité de Malang (Ngaoundéré, Cameroun). Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci., 4: 1425-1434.

Van Mele, P. & CUC, N.T.T. (2003). Ants as friends: Improving your tree crops with weaver ants. [WWW document]. URL .

Van Mele, P. (2008). A historical review of research on the weaver ant Oecophylla in biological control. Agr. Forest. Entomol., 10: 13–22. doi:10.1111/j.1461-9563.2007.00350.x

Van Mele, P., Cuc, N.T.T., Seguni, Z., Camara, K. & Offenberg, J. (2009). Multiple sources of local knowledge: a global review of ways to reduce nuisance from the beneficial weaver ant Oecophylla. Int. J. Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology., 8: 484-504. doi: 10.1504/IJARGE.2009.032646

Van Mele, P., Vayssières, J-F., Van Tellingen, E. & Vrolijks, J. (2007). Effects of an African weaver ant, Oecophylla longinoda, in controlling mango fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Benin. J. Econ. Entomol., 100: 695–701.

Vayssières, J.-F. (2012). Tri-trophic relations between different food web structures about fruit flies in tropical fruit agroecosystems. Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches. CIRAD-Hortsys. Université Paris Est, Paris, France, p. 158.

Vayssières, J.-F., Korie, S., Coulibaly, T., Temple, L. & Boueyi, S. (2008). The mango tree in central and northern Benin: cultivar inventory, yield assessment, early infested stages of mangos and economic loss due to the fruit fly (Diptera Tephritidae). Fruits, 63: 335-348. doi:10.1051/fruits:2008035

Way, M.J. & Khoo, K.C. (1992). Role of ants in pest management. Annu. Rev. Entomol., 37: 479–503.

Way, M.J. (1954). Studies on the association of the ant Oecophylla longinoda (Latreille) (Formicidae) with the scale insect Saissetia zanzibarensis Williams (Coccidae). Bull. Entomol. Res., 45: 113–134.

Way, M.J. (1963). Mutualism between ants and honeydew producing Homoptera. Annu. Rev. Entomol., 8: 307–344.




How to Cite

Anato, F. M., Sinzogan, A., Adandonon, A., Hounlidji, X., Offenberg, J., Kossou, D. K., & Vayssières, J.-F. (2015). Impact of African Weaver Ant Nests [Oecophylla longinoda Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)] on Mango [Mangifera indica L. (Sapindales: Anacardiaceae)] Leaves. Sociobiology, 62(1), 39–45.



Research Article - Ants

Most read articles by the same author(s)