Weaver ants (Oecophylla spp.) are increasingly being used for biocontrol and are targeted for future production of insect protein in ant farms. An efficient production of live ant colonies may facilitate the utilization of these ants but the production of mature colonies is hampered by the long time it takes for newly established colonies to grow to a suitable size. In this study we followed the growth of newly founded O. smaragdina colonies with 2, 3 or 4 founding queens during 12 days of development, following the transplantation of 0, 30 or 60 pupae from a mature donor colony. Colony growth (number of individuals) increased with increasing numbers of queens (pleometrosis) as well as with the transplantation of pupae. Transplanted pupae were accepted and developed into mature workers and not only added extra individuals to the receiver colonies but also increased the egg production of the resident queens. More founding queens also lead to higher colony production but did not affect the queen´s per capita egg production. During the 12 days survey the maximum colony growth obtained with 4 queens and 60 transplanted pupae increased growth with 476 % compared to colonies with 2 queens and no transplantation. Thus, in ant nurseries the use of multiple queens during nest founding as well as transplantation of pupae from foreign colonies may be utilised to decrease the time it takes to produce a colony ready for implementation.
Global Conference on Entomology. 5-9 March Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2011