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Aphid-Tending Ants and Their Effects on Natural Enemies Used in the Biological Control

Abstract

Herbivores and plants have a large number of physical, chemical, and behavioral strategies to attack and defend each other. In this context, herbivores, such as aphids, sometimes join with ants to optimize the exploitation of plant resources. Aphids provide ants with sugary and nutritious liquid, while ants protect them in return. However, since simplified environments often face herbivore population explosions, aphids become large agricultural pests of difficult biological control, because, in this case, ants expel both their natural enemies and the natural enemies of other plants. Thus, ants, directly and indirectly, create a propitious environment for a larger growth of the population of aphids. Ants that interact with aphids are frequently generalists. Therefore, there is a great diversity of ants involved in this interaction. The most diverse genera, such as Pheidole, Camponotus, and Crematogaster, are among the most commonly associated with these Hemiptera. Although this interaction is frequent in Latin American agricultural environments, studies on such interaction and its effects on biological control are scarce. The ant-aphid interaction in agricultural environments should be better understood, because the Neotropical region, where Latin America is, has more than 4000 ant species. Hence, this area shows great potential to be explored by scientists, both in the theoretical and practical perspectives. This chapter shows the state-of-the-art of the subject in Latin America, with some examples and suggestions for future studies.

Keywords

  • Agrosystem
  • Ant-aphid interaction
  • Neotropical region
  • Pest control
  • Myrmecophily

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Canedo-Júnior, E.O., Monteiro, Â.B., de Queiroz, A.C.M., Silva, G.S. (2019). Aphid-Tending Ants and Their Effects on Natural Enemies Used in the Biological Control. In: Souza, B., Vázquez, L., Marucci, R. (eds) Natural Enemies of Insect Pests in Neotropical Agroecosystems. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24733-1_42

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