Pesticides proposed to be replaced by ants

(ORDO NEWS) — Chemical pest control agents, i.e. various pesticides, are a serious problem for the environment and public health. Therefore, scientists are trying to replace them with biological methods of struggle – in the new article, ants are considered as such.

Environmental problems associated with growing crops stimulate the search for new, sometimes quite exotic, agricultural technologies. The problem of field pests, that is, insects and other animals that destroy crops and crops, remains important.

To combat uninvited guests, pesticides are used – chemical compounds that are not always selective and can harm other animals and the ecosystem as a whole.

Moreover, pesticides enter the human body with water and food, which is associated with a considerable health hazard. In addition, over time, such substances lose their effectiveness due to the adaptation of pests to them.

All these shortcomings are deprived of biological methods of pest control – say, the use of insects – their natural enemies. Scientists from Brazil, the United States and Spain have published a meta-analysis, that is, they summarized the results of many studies on the use of ants as such.

These are common social insects that lead a life of unspecialized predators. Among the huge number of articles available in the databases, the authors chose 52, which deal with 17 different crops and various technologies for their cultivation.

It is interesting to note that the use of ants as “live pesticides” has a rich history. In China, these insects were used to protect citrus crops centuries ago. Later, various ants were used in fields and forests in different parts of the world – all this experience is summarized in a new publication.

Ants are considered as a control tool, providers of ecosystem services , as well as a source of problems that may arise in the process of applying this unusual agricultural technology.

Yield and damage to crops were assessed, and additional factors included the number of pests, their natural enemies, crop area, crop rotation system and time of cultivation of the plot.

Based on these data, it was concluded that ants successfully cope with harmful insects that do not excrete honeydew (such as aphids and mealybugs).

With the aphids themselves, everything is so simple: ants often contain and breed these creatures that are inactive and suck the juice of plants, just as a person does with cows.

The fact is that six-legged predators lick off the nutrient secretions protruding on the surface of the body of aphids, and that is why they take care of them.

It turned out that ants also reduce the number of other predatory insects (mainly indiscriminate towards prey), as they compete with them. The negative consequences of breeding ants were expected to include an increase in the number of aphids and the like.

A meta-analysis led to the conclusion that ants are highly effective in controlling harmful insects – sometimes they even surpass commercial pesticides. Shade-loving crops turned out to be the most optimal for them, and the most modest results are associated with plants that are more often inhabited by aphids.

The authors are convinced that this is a promising agricultural technology that will contribute to the sustainable development of agriculture.


Contact us: [email protected]

Our Standards, Terms of Use: Standard Terms And Conditions.