الجمعة، 4 سبتمبر، 2015

Ants are safer, more effective than pesticides, study says


There’s a new ant–agonist on the pesticide market. According to a reviewpublished in the Journal of Applied Ecology, trees protected by weaver ants have less pests, less plant damage, and show an increased yield when compared to trees sprayed with pesticides. The small, red tree dwellers are also cheaper to use and better for the environment.
What makes the weaver ants so effective is their ability to quickly respond and attack larger intruders. They’re categorized as a “superorganism,” which means that the colony functions like one organism, with individual ants acting as its cells and moving around independently. When an intruder enters their environment, the ants coordinate attacks via pheromones before taking the insect back to their nests of woven leaves to feed the colony. With the crops hanging so close to the nests, they fall under the ants’ protection.
To put together his review, Aarhus University bioscience professor Joachim Offenberg pored over approximately 70 recent scientific studies on the use of ants as pest control on nine different crops against various pests in Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia. One three–year Australian study revealed a 49 percent higher cashew yield in ant–protected trees versus those sprayed with pesticide. Not only that, but the cashews were of a significantly higher quality. Likewise, mango trees protected by ants produced a better quality crop. This, coupled with the ants being cheaper than pesticide, resulted in a 73 percent higher net income.

That’s not to say that similar results were reported across the board.
“There do exist a few cases where the ants alone are not the solution as some pests have adapted and can protect themselves against them,” Offenberg told Foxnews.com. “In these cases, the ants need to be supplemented with other control methods to obtain adequate control. This is called integrated pest management (IPM), when different methods are combined in the same agricultural system.”

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