The mango seed weevil, Sternochetus mangiferae (Fabricius), is one of the major mango insect pests in northern Australia. A reasonable level of control can be obtained with insecticide sprays together with orchard sanitation, but the only option available for organic growers is the latter. Weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius), are effective in controlling the main insect pests in citrus, cashew and mango orchards. To determine whether weaver ants, which are usually abundant in non-sprayed mango orchards, have the potential to control the mango seed weevil, field experiments together with regular monitoring programmes at six orchards in the Northern Territory of Australia were conducted from 2001 to 2003. Data from two conventional orchards showed that the treatment with weaver ants plus soft chemicals produced lower levels of downgraded fruits (<0.5%) compared to the treatment with chemical insecticides (1.4-2.1%). In three organic or insecticide-free orchards, fruits were much less damaged on trees with weaver ants (<1%) than on trees without the ants (2.5-15.7%). In the sixth orchard, that had much higher mango seed weevil populations than the others, levels of downgraded fruits were lower on trees with abundant weaver ants than on trees with fewer weaver ants. We conclude that weaver ants are efficient biocontrol agents of the mango seed weevil, and that for successful control of the pest it is important both to maintain the ants at high levels and to destroy excess fruits.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||International Journal of Pest Management|
|Publication status||Published - 2007|