The ants promove plagues in citrics

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The ants promove plagues in citrics

The world of nature is very interesting. In this world there is everything, cases of cannibalism within the same species, predators, cooperators, symbiosis, among others.

There are cases when one species protects the other by the benefits it gets from it or, vice versa. In this world many species are related directly or indirectly. We can see it, using as an example, the ants. In their social life, ants use not only cooperation between species of the same group, but also other insects.linepithema-humile1

Recent research has shown that ants favor the presence of pests in citrus. Among them, two species of the ants native to the Iberian Peninsula, Lasius grandis and Pheidole pallidula and an exotic Argentine ant species Linepithema humile, which have already been distributed in a large part of Spain, in addition to the Canaries and Baleares.

These investigations have been carried out by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia who have published their studies in the Bulletin of Entomological Publications of the University of Cambridge (Bulletin of Entomogical Research). They have investigated the cases in which these three species of ants favor the expansion of citrus red lice that cause diseases (direct action or virus transmission) in orange trees and two species of ants (Pheidole pallidula and Linepithema humile) cause Also the increase of the white cottony fly.

Ants feed on the molasses produced by the white fly. For this, the ants defend these flies and the zones where they are, increasing, in this way, the population of this plague of citrus. Ants eliminate or expel their natural predators just as they do with aphids, also protecting them for the benefit they have.

At the same time, California red lice, which produces nothing interesting to ants, takes advantage of this ants defense situation and occupies the same habitat areas (free from natural parasites) as whiteflies.

pheidole-pallidulaThe ants must climb up the leaves through the trunk of the trees to collect the molasses of the white flies, at the same time eliminating the natural predators of these flies. Researchers have done the experiment with the ants. For this, the researchers have chosen the tree-patterns and applied the glues that prevented the insects from climbing up the trunk and reaching the leaves.

As a result, white flies have lost this defense and were being eliminated by their natural enemies. Therefore, the number of white flies has decreased and citrus production has improved.
As we see, there is a very complex relationship between the different species of animals and the most important that this direct or indirect influences on humans and their activities.