1 Department of Bioscience - Soil Fauna Ecology and Ecotoxicology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 Department of Bioscience - Plant and Insect Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University3 Department of Bioscience - Plant and Insect Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
Many ant species are efficient control agents against a wide range of pest insects in many crops. They control pest insects via predation; however, ant communication is based on chemical cues which may be eavesdropped by potential prey and serve as chemical warning signals. Thus, the presence of ant pheromones may be sufficient to repel pest insects from ant territories. The study of ant semiochemicals is in its infancy, yet, evidence for their potential use in pest management is starting to build up. Pheromones from four of five tested ant species have been shown to deter herbivorous insect from the ants’ host plants. (i) Oecophylla smaragdina deposits disrupt chrysomelid (Rhyparida wallacei) feeding on a Thai mangrove, and (ii) deposits from O. longinoda repel ovipositing fruit flies (Bactrosera invadens and Ceratitis cosyra) from mango fruits in Benin. Also, deposits from two New World ant species (iii) Azteca instabilis and (iv) Camponotus textor reduce herbivory by flea beetles (Margaridisa sp.), whereas (v) deposits from Solenopsis geminata, did not lead to reduced herbivory. Further evidence for the impact of ant pheromones comes from studies showing that non-herbivorous ant prey and competing ant species are also deterred by ant deposits, whereas ant symbionts may be attracted to them. Based on these promising initial findings, it seems advisable to further elucidate the signaling properties of ant pheromones and to test and develop their use in future pest management.