Thieves, bats and fruit flies: local ecological knowledge on the weaver ant Oecophylla longinoda in relation to three ‘invisible’ intruders in orchards in Guinea uri icon

abstract

  • We held interviews with 100 mango and cashew growers in Guinea, West Africa. Fewer than 20 questions dealing with the tree-inhabiting weaver ant Oecophylla longinoda were developed, based on local context and related research conducted on farmers' knowledge in other countries. More than half of the growers reported that ants protect their orchard from thieves. Apart from deterring snakes, about 46% of the growers mentioned that weaver ants reduce damage by fruit-eating bats; some reported that bats do dislike the smell of weaver ants. Whereas the relationship between ants and humans or conspicuous fruit bats is well understood, a quantitative appreciation of the effect of Oecophylla on small insect pests, such as fruit flies, is more complex. Despite the fact that 57% of the growers reported that Oecophylla had a positive effect on mango fruit quality, many classified Oecophylla as a pest due to its nuisance during harvest, and they requested the plant protection staff to help them with pesticides. Strategies to strengthen local ecological knowledge are discussed.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009