The research evaluates the effects of the predaceous ant Oecophylla smaragdina on three major pests of Australian cacao (Helopeltis spp., Amblypelta spp. and Rhyparida nitida) in an Australian cacao farm, in the presence and absence of cacao fruit husks, a habitat manipulation utilized to provide habitat and food resources for midge (Ceratopogonidae) pollinators. The research also evaluates the effect of O. smaragdina on their potentially plant-damaging, mutualistic mealybug (Pseudococcidae) partners in the presence and absence of cacao fruit husks. The findings suggest that O. smaragdina ants provide pest control services for three major insect pests in Australian cacao farms, however ants generally increase the densities of mealybugs. Furthermore, this pest control may be compatible with habitat manipulations (i.e., the addition of cacao fruit husks) to improve pollinator habitat.
Column titles are Date (date samples were collected), Fortnight (samples were collected fortnightly), Plot (the individual plot identifier), Tree (the individual tree identifier), Husk (present = 1, absent = 0), Ant presence (1 = present, 0 = excluded), OsObs (number of O. smaragdina ants observed), Mealybugs (number of mealybugs observed), Amblypelta (number of Amblypelta observed), Helopeltis (number of Helopeltis observed), and Rhyparida (number of Rhyparida beetles observed).