Revista Colombiana de Entomología
Print version ISSN 0120-0488
FRANCO R, ALEXANDRA; CARDENAS M, REINALDO; MONTOYA, ESTHER CECILIA and ZENNER DE POLANIA, INGEBORG. Ants associated with sucking insects in the aerial part of the coffee tree. Rev. Colomb. Entomol. [online]. 2003, vol.29, n.2, pp. 95-105. ISSN 0120-0488.
Ants are found isolated or associated with other insects, directly or indirectly affecting the coffee plants. In order to clarify some of these associations, in coffee plantations, younger than three years, ants and associated homopteran insects were collected and identified, the relationships described and a field guide for identification of the formicids elaborated. The study was carried out in seven experimental substations of Cenicafé. The data obtained from the field records were submitted to descriptive statistics. A total of 114 different associations were recognized; 30 ants species of the Formicinae, Myrmicinae, Dolichoderinae and Ponerinae subfamilies associated with 12 homopteran of the Coccidae, Pseudococcidae, Aphididae, Ortheziidae, Aethalionidae and Membracidae families were found. The sucking insects more common on the coffee plants were: Coccus viridis, Saissetia coffea, Planococcus citri, Toxoptera aurantii and Orthezia sp.. Three types of relationships were identified: mutualism (95,11%), comensalism (4,57%) and depredation (0,32%). The highest number of ants and associated sucking species were registered at the Supia (Caldas) and Libano (Tolima). The ants indirectly protect the homopteran colonies against natural enemy attack through cleaning and covers, however, they do not exercise a direct action against fungi, parasites and predators that act as natural control agents and regúlate the homopteran population.
Keywords : Homopteran; Biological control; Interactions; Mutualism; Predation; Comensalism.