PI(s): Lim, Grace T (Co-Project Leader), Salom, Scott M (Co-Project Leader), Kok, Loke T (Co-Project Leader)

Abstract: Presence of weaver ants in mahogany plantations in Malaysia is correlated with reduced attack by the mahogany shoot borer. Studies are being conducted to improve our understanding of the system and help us develop augmentative approaches toward using the ants as biological control agents.

Description:

Ms. Grace Lim received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. and study the potential for weaver ants to help reduce injury from the mahogany shoot borer, a very important economic pest of mahogany plantations in Asia. Her field work will be carried out in Selangor, the west central state on penninsular Malaysia. Evidence suggests that the presence of weaver ants correlate with reduced shoot borer activity. Ms. Lim is investigating the factors that influence ant predation on the shoot borer and use her findings to help augment weaver ant activity in mahogany plantations in Malaysia.

Impact:

Mahogany is a very desireable commercial trees species in Malaysia. The shoot borer renders management of this tree almost impossible because the damage caused by the pest impacts the terminal leader and creates unmerchantable trees. Use of insecticides are impractical because of the continuous pressure from a pest with multiple generations per year. Weaver ants do appear to significantly reduce shoot borer damage. Therefore, if a strategy can be developed that enhances weaver ant activity in mahogany plantations until the trees are old enough to escape shoot borer pressure, it might be possible to grow these trees commercially.