- In cashew plantations of ICAR-DCR, India, foraging activity of 49 ants species belonging to 24 genera and seven subfamilies has been recorded.
- Few ants species are predators of several pests of cashew, and some species feed nectar on extra floral nectarines, while a few ant species tend several sucking pests like aphids, mealy bugs, and scale insects for their sugary honeydew.
- Myrmicinae ants were the most dominant comprising 22 species followed by Formicinae with 13 species, while only a single species was found among Aenictinae and Dorylinae.
- Old cashew plantations were characterized by Oecophylla smaragdina, followed by Anoplolepis gracillipes, while, Camponotus compressus and sericeus were dominant in young and medium-aged plantations. Collections of pitfall traps consisted mostly of Odontomachus haematodus, Lophomyrmex quadrispinosus, Technomyrmex albipes, Myrmicaria brunnea, Diacamma sp., C. compressus and C. sericeus.
- During the flowering and fruiting period of cashew, foraging of up to 10 ant species was seen on the same tree at a time.
- Activities of most ant species were predominant during winter and summer, which coincides with the flowering and fruiting period of cashew (December–May), while during the heavy downpour of the southwest monsoon, the activities of only 10 species were noticed prominently.
Predominant ant species in different aged cashew plantations at Puttur, Karnataka
Medium aged plantations
Camponotus compressus >Camponotus sericeus >Monomorium spp.
Camponotus compressus > Camponotus sericeus > Prenolepis naoroji > Monomorium spp.
Oecophylla smaragdina ≥ Anaplolepis gracillipes > Camponotus compressus > Camponotus sericeus
Monomorium spp.> Tapinoma melanocephalum
Tapinoma melanocephalum > Technomyrmex albipes > Monomorium floricola >Tetraponera rufonigra
Soil and litter
Camponotus compressus>C. sericeus
Camponotus compressus > Camponotus sericeus> Myrmecaria brunnea
Lophomyrmex quadrispinosus > Oodontomachus haematodus > Diacamma sp. > Solenopsis geminata> Camponotus compressus > Myrmecaria brunnea
Photo credit: K. Vanitha, ICAR-DCR, Puttur