Ants as possible
biological control agents in orchards?
Several organisms are already known
as control organisms in biological and integrated pest management,
but the focus on applications is mostly on glasshouse pests.
Although it is known that weaver ants
(Oecophylla) are (passively) used as biological control agents
in citrus orchards in China, wood ants (Formica) have a
large impact on the populations of woodland pests and that there
reports on the beneficial "side effects" of the presence
of fire ants (Solenopsis) in cotton and other crops, there
are no other reports of an active use of ants in pest control.
Wood ants are known as major predators
in woodlands and there is extensive study on their behaviour. They
are also easy to keep in artificial nests. We try to combine those
The aims of
this project are:
1) To design
an artificial nest that can contain an ant colony (Formica rufa,
F. polyctena or F. pratensis)
under the best conditions in an orchard.
investigate the effect of regular displacement of this nest on
the overall development of the colony.
If there is no negative effect with displacement to investigate
the distribution of the workers and
the effect (if any) the colony (or colonies) has (have) on the populations
of the pest species in an orchard
(comparison with orchards without ants present).
4) To investigate possible side effects on pollinators
5) (Facultative) to investigate the effect of several pesticides
on the ants
Tel. + 32 11