Can ants contribute to the conservative biological control of the south american fruit fly?
Ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) are an efficient group of insects as predators of various arthropods. Based on records of the predatory ant activity, a survey was carried out on the efficiency in predation of Anastrepha fraterculus (Diptera: Tephritidae) larvae, considering the percentage of removal of larvae using the variables of soil density and moisture content and their effect on the larvae burying. For this, A. fraterculus larvae were released to the soil and observed for 10 min while burying or removed by the ants in a peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) orchard. Eight ant species were recorded removing 32.70% of the larvae. Solenopsis saevissima was the most efficient species, with 42.86% of larvae removal. There were no significant correlations between the predation by ants with soil density and soil moisture content. Despite this, the study pointed out that ants belong to genera Pachycondyla, Pheidole, Pogonomyrmex and Solenopsis can be predators on A. fraterculus larvae, with emphasis on the S. saevissima. These ants can contribute as important agents of conservative biological control of the population of A. fraterculus in peach orchard and their conservation becomes interesting to use of combined control methods aiming to reduce insecticides and aggressive soil management methods.