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Ant-coccid mutualism in citrus canopies and its effect on natural enemies of red scale, Aonidiella aurantii (Maskell) (Hemiptera: Diaspididae)

  • H.T. Dao (a1), A. Meats (a2), G.A.C. Beattie (a1) and R. Spooner-Hart (a1)

Abstract

Mutualistic relationships between honeydew-producing insects and ants have been widely recognized for several decades. Iridomyrmex rufoniger (Lowne) is the commonest ant species associated with black scale, Saissetia oleae (Olivier), in the citrus orchards of the mid latitudes of coastal New South Wales. Citrus trees with high densities of both red and black scale and high ant activity were identified and the results of excluding ants from half of those trees (using a polybutene band on each trunk) were compared with the results of not excluding ants from the other half. Trees with a low incidence of black scale and ants were also studied. Exclusion of ants from trees was soon followed by collapse of black scale populations because most individuals were asphyxiated by their own honeydew. Also, parasitism of the red scale by Encarsia perniciosi (Tower) and Encarsia citrina Craw was significantly higher than in the control trees over the following year, as was the predation rate on red scale due to three coccinellid predators, Halmus chalybeus (Boisduval), Rhyzobius hirtellus Crotch and Rhyzobius lophanthae (Blaisdell). In contrast, another coccinellid, Orcus australasiae (Boisduval), and a noctuid moth larva, Mataeomera dubia Butler, were seen in low numbers on banded (ant exclusion) trees, probably because of the low availability of their black scale prey, but were significantly higher on control trees apparently because of their invulnerability to ants.

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Corresponding author

* Author for correspondence Phone: +61 4570 1287 Fax: +61 4570 1314 E-mail: alan.meats@sydney.edu.au

References

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Keywords

Ant-coccid mutualism in citrus canopies and its effect on natural enemies of red scale, Aonidiella aurantii (Maskell) (Hemiptera: Diaspididae)

  • H.T. Dao (a1), A. Meats (a2), G.A.C. Beattie (a1) and R. Spooner-Hart (a1)

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