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Insects 2016, 7(1), 1; doi:10.3390/insects7010001

Antagonistic Interactions between the African Weaver Ant Oecophylla longinoda and the Parasitoid Anagyrus pseudococci Potentially Limits Suppression of the Invasive Mealybug Rastrococcus iceryoides

1
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), P.O. Box 30772, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
2
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
3
Faculty of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), P.O. Box 163, Ga-Rankuwa 0221, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Michael J. Stout, Jeff Davis, Rodrigo Diaz and Julien M. Beuzelin
Received: 6 August 2015 / Revised: 19 November 2015 / Accepted: 7 December 2015 / Published: 23 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Collection Integrated Pest Management)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [770 KB, uploaded 23 December 2015]   |  

Abstract

The ant Oecophylla longinoda Latreille forms a trophobiotic relationship with the invasive mealybug Rastrococus iceryoides Green and promotes the latter’s infestations to unacceptable levels in the presence of their natural enemies. In this regard, the antagonistic interactions between the ant and the parasitoid Anagyrus pseudococci Girault were assessed under laboratory conditions. The percentage of parasitism of R. iceryoides by A. pseudococci was significantly higher on “ant-excluded” treatments (86.6% ± 1.27%) compared to “ant-tended” treatments (51.4% ± 4.13%). The low female-biased sex-ratio observed in the “ant-tended” treatment can be attributed to ants’ interference during the oviposition phase, which disrupted parasitoids’ ability to fertilize eggs. The mean foraging time, host handling time and number of successful oviposition in “ant-excluded” treatment were significantly higher compared to “ant-tended” treatments. When ant workers were allowed access to sterilized sand grains, mummified and unmummified R. iceryoides, they selectively removed the mummified mealybugs, indicating that they recognized the mummies as potential foods (1.2 ± 0.46 to 7.8 ± 1.17 mummies at 10 min intervals for 2 h). Percentage emergence from mummified R. iceryoides removed by the ants was significantly lower compared to emergence from mummies not exposed to ants. Although, host seeking parasitoids frequently evaded attacks, some were killed by the foraging ant workers (2.0 ± 0.38 to 6.0 ± 0.88 at 10 min intervals for 2 h). These results suggest for the first time that the presence of O. longinoda has a detrimental effect on the abundance, reproductive success and possibly oviposition strategy of female parasitoids, which might be a delimiting factor in field conditions if both natural enemies are to be recommended for use within the same agro-ecosystem. View Full-Text
Keywords: Oecophylla longinoda; Anagyrus pseudococci; Rastrococcus iceryoides; mummy mutilation; parasitoid mortality; biotic interference Oecophylla longinoda; Anagyrus pseudococci; Rastrococcus iceryoides; mummy mutilation; parasitoid mortality; biotic interference
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Tanga, C.M.; Ekesi, S.; Govender, P.; Nderitu, P.W.; Mohamed, S.A. Antagonistic Interactions between the African Weaver Ant Oecophylla longinoda and the Parasitoid Anagyrus pseudococci Potentially Limits Suppression of the Invasive Mealybug Rastrococcus iceryoides. Insects 2016, 7, 1.

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