Weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius), can be used to manage insect pests in mango orchards in the Northern Territory of Australia, but previously unidentified black marks on fruit can reduce fruit marketability. To determine the cause of the marks, and to reduce the number of fruits by such marks, field experiments were conducted in three mango orchards in the Darwin area of Australia in 2001 and 2002. The results from netting bag-rearing showed that the black marks on fruit were due to the deposition of weaver ant formic acid, and fighting between weaver ant colonies was the major cause of the deposition. In treatments without isolation of weaver ant colonies, an average of 4.8% of fruits with the ant marks were downgraded, and this damage level was reduced to 2.1% in treatments with isolation of weaver ant colonies. Because of weaver ant foraging behaviour, this small proportion of downgraded fruits was unavoidable, but the benefits of the ants as biocontrol agents against a range of pests outweighs the cost of the damage the ants cause.
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||International Journal of Pest Management|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|