Predation biology of weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the field of tasar sericulture
Ganesh B Gathalkar, Deepak D Barsagade
The weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is known for an aggressive painful bite and a predator of various insect species. Workers of O. smaragdina, attack and kill numbers of early larval instars of tropical tasar silkworm, Antheraea mylitta (Drury) (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae). The lethal predation of A. mylitta by the workers of O. smaragdina reducesrnwild tasar silk production which in directly contributes to the loss in total silk production. The arboreal nature of O. smaragdina and highly aggressive predatory habit coupled with extensive foraging on tasar host plantsrn(eg. Terminalia sp.), often poses a serious risk in tasar sericulture. Therefore, a survey was undertaken in the tasar rearing fields in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, India to study the predatory potential of O. smaragdina on A. mylitta. Furthermore, based on the attack and symptoms of predation on A. mylitta, the loss (mortality) is also discussed.