, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 271-276

Ants (Azteca sp.) as potential biological control agents in shade coffee production in Chiapas, Mexico

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The role of Azteca sp. ants as potential biological control agents was studied in an organic coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico. Individual larvae of Pieris rapae were placed on trees with artificially enhanced ant activity and both time to disappearance of the larvae and ant activity were recorded. There was a general negative relationship between time to disappearance and ant activity. A census of spiders was made of coffee bushes with and without foraging Azteca, encountering a negative relationship between ants and spiders. These results indicate that Azteca ants have potential as pests through their positive effect on scale insects, but also have potential as biological control agents, through their negative effect on potential herbivores. Furthermore, the correlation between ant and spider densities suggests a complicated relationship between these two predatory organisms, implying a more complicated food web structure than simply ants, homoptera and other herbivores.

This revised version was published online in November 2005 with corrections to the Cover Date.