The search rate of the African weaver ant in cashew

Signe Henriksen, Jorgen Aagaard Axelsen, K. H. Lemming, Maulid Mwatawala, Jocahim Offenberg

Abstract


Oecophylla longinoda is a species of eusocial colony living ants that prey upon other insects to feed their larva. Many of these insects are considered pests. An ecosystem model of the interactions between an O. longinoda colony and its potential prey is under construction by the team behind this article, and it is unknown which functional response equations are useful for eusocial insect colonies. We investigated the search rate of O. longinoda using artificial feeding experiments in a Tanzanian cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) orchard to determine the search efficiency of the ants, and to assess which functional response equation can be used for eusocial insects. Artificial feeding experiments consisted of providing each of ten colonies 50 pieces of sardine (175 mg dry weight in average) in cashew trees at time 0 and counting the remaining food items at four intervals of 45 minutes during a seven day period. The equations of Gutierrez-Baumgärtner, Lotka-Volterra, and Nicholson-Bailey were assessed and the Nicholson-Bailey equation was found to be most suitable. The Gutierrez-Baumgärtner equation is useful if the demand for storage can be assessed. A large variation in search rates was found between the observed colonies and this problem is discussed in relation to Oecophylla sp. efficacy as a biological control agent.

Keywords


Oecophylla longinoda, cashew, search rate, biocontrol, eusocial insect

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v62i4.740

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