Grower Perception of the Significance of Weaver Ants as a Fruit Fly Deterrent in Tanzanian Smallholder Mango Production

  •  Nina Kirkegaard    
  •  Theodosy Msogoya    
  •  Joachim Offenberg    
  •  Brian Grout    


Managed populations of weaver ants in mango trees have been used successfully in Australia, SE Asia and parts of Western Africa to deter fruit flies from ovipositing in ripening fruits. The presence of indigenous weaver ants in mango trees of smallholder growers in Tanzania offers the possibility of exploiting them as an affordable, environmentally -friendly method to improve marketable fruit yield and quality. In a preliminary interview study in a mango-growing region of rural Tanzania, the farmers were not convinced of any beneficial, deterrent effect attributable to the indigenous weaver ants in their trees and were sceptical of any likely value as a biological control technique. Additionally, fruit fly infestation was not seen as a priority problem and subsequent enquiry and investigation showed that, fortuitously, traditional, local practices for storage and enhancing ripening prevented the development of a significant proportion of any deposited eggs. Subsequent field studies supported the grower perceptions as they recorded only an erratic and limited deterrent effect.

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