Nuptial flights behavior of the African weaver ant, Oecophylla longinoda Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and weather factors triggering flights

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  • Wilson Nene, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, United Republic of
  • Gration Rwegasira, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Danmark
  • Mogens Gissel Nielsen
  • Maulid Mwatawala, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Danmark
  • Hans Joachim Offenberg
Weaver ants (Oecophylla spp.) are intensively
studied in basic and applied contexts. Yet, little is known
about their mating behavior. Knowledge on their reproductive
strategy is a prerequisite to the basic understanding of
their life history and may provide valuable information
facilitating their use in integrated pest management (IPM)
and protein production (entomophagy). Here, we report on
the behavior displayed by O. longinoda in relation with their
nuptial flights in Tanzania and test for environmental cues
that may trigger the flights. Based on observations of 56
flights recorded over 2 years, we found that sexuals aggregate
on nest surfaces prior to flights. We also found that
flights took place during the raining season, and all flights
took place in evenings just before sunset. Further to these,
days with flights were associated with higher relative
humidity and less sun shine compared to days without flights.
Also, flights mainly took place around full moons. However,
this correlation was based on a total of only five full moon
phases and should, therefore, be interpreted with caution.
The results also showed that flights were only significantly
correlated with weather parameters during the early part of
the mating season, the trend changed thereafter probably due
to depletion of sexuals in the nests as the season progressed.
This information improves our understanding of ant nuptial
flights and offers a tool to improve forecasts of O. longinoda
flights, enabling easier collection of mated queens to stock
ant nurseries that supply ant colonies for IPM-programs.
TidsskriftInsectes Sociaux
Sider (fra-til)243-248
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - maj 2016

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