n African Entomology - An effective method for maintaining the African termite-raiding ant in the laboratory




Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is a common African Ponerine ant that organizes group raids on termites considered a huge burden to agriculture. This ant has been the subject of various entomological and natural history studies aimed at understanding their group raiding behaviour and impact on the ecosystem as well as the roles they play in regulating field termite populations. However, colony maintenance under laboratory conditions for long-term research purposes has largely been unsuccessful. Herein, we report an effective method for maintaining in the laboratory for long-term studies that may include behavioural, life history and chemical ecology. Using a simple set-up made up of a Perspex foraging arena and an aluminum nest box in the laboratory, queen right colonies were successfully maintained for an average of 27.0±6.0 weeks and a maximum of 34 weeks before declining. High ant mortality (6-48 %) was observed in the first week of captivity in the laboratory. This declined to a weekly mortality of 4.0 ± 3.6% (24 ± 22.5 ants per colony) after the ants had settled in their new laboratory nest. Therefore, using our laboratory rearing set-up, and keeping laboratory conditions similar to those in the field, as well as feeding on its usual diet of termites, could increase colony survival time up to 4.5 times longer than previously reported rearing protocols.


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