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Optimizing methods for rearing mated queens and establishing new colony of Oecophylla longinoda (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

  • Rozalia G. Rwegasira (a1), Maulid W. Mwatawala (a1), Gration M. Rwegasira (a1) and Jörgen Axelsen (a2)

Abstract

Oecophylla spp. are used as biocontrol agents for many types of insect pests. A large and stable population is essential for effective control of pests. Colonies of Oecophylla spp. can be transplanted from wild habitats into orchards. Transplanted colonies can only survive in the presence of egg laying queens. It is difficult to locate nests with egg laying queens in large colonies that may sometimes contain more than 100 nests. Therefore, the need to explore and develop methods for rearing newly mated queens in nurseries may not be over emphasized, hence the current study. In the first experiment, we tested three rearing methods on queen survival and colony establishment. In the second experiment, we compared feeding techniques of different weaver ants on young colony growth. We observed that queens were best reared under continuous, indirect access to water. The first workers emerged earlier (32 days on average) in indirect and direct continuous access to water methods than on limited access to water (sprinkled) (38 days on average). Moreover, rearing mated queens under continuous indirect access and continuous direct access to water methods saved labour and time, because of limited attendance to the colonies. Availability of water, sugar solution and different sources of protein throughout improved the growth of young colonies. Likewise, the number of workers increased rapidly. Therefore rearing mated queens in nurseries is possible and would minimize hustles in hunting for the colonies and their queens in the wilderness.

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