1 Department of Bioscience - Plant and Insect Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey Calavi3 Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Sciences et Techniques Agronomiques (ENSTA) de Kétou, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, BP 526 Cotonou, République du Bénin4 ; IITA, Biocontrol Unit for Africa, 08 BP 0932, Cotonou, République du Bénin5 Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey Calavi, BP 526 Cotonou, République du Bénin.6 Department of Bioscience - Plant and Insect Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
Oecophylla ants are currently used for biological control in fruit plantations in Australia, Asia and Africa and for protein production in Asia. To further improve the technology and implement it on a large scale, effective and fast production of live colonies is desirable. Early colony development may be artificially boosted via the use of multiple queens (plemetrosis) and/or by adoption of foreign pupae in developing colonies. In the present experiments, we tested if multiple queens and transplantation of pupae could boost growth in young Oecophylla longinoda colonies. Colonies with two queens artificially placed in the same nest, all perished due to queen fighting, suggesting that pleomtrosis is not used by O. longinoda in Benin. In contrast, pupae transplantation resulted in highly increased growth rates, as pupae were readily adopted by the queens and showed high survival rates (mean = 92%). Within the 50 day experiment the total number of individuals in colonies with 50 and 100 pupae transplanted, increased with 169 and 387 %, respectively, compared to colonies receiving no pupae. This increase was both due to the individuals added in the form of pupae but also due to an increased per capita brood production by the resident queen, triggered by the adopted pupae. Thus pupae transplantation may be used to shorten the time it takes to produce weaver ant colonies in ant nurseries, and may in this way facilitate the implementation of weaver ant biocontrol in West Africa.