oa African Entomology - A survey of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) that forage in vineyards in the Western Cape Province, South Africa

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



This study was undertaken to establish which species of ants were associated with the mealybug Planococcus ficus (Signoret) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), and which species were dominant in the main vine-growing areas of the Western Cape Province, South Africa. During 1998/99, 22 vineyards were surveyed in the StellenboschlPaarl, Little Karoo, Worcester, Swartland, Olifants River and Hex River Valley regions, using pitfall traps to sample epigaeic ants and tuna-bait traps to sample arboreal ants. Each vineyard was sampled intensively for two consecutive weeks shortly before harvest. Forty two species of ants were recorded during the survey. The most widely distributed ant species, which were potentially dominant and associated with mealybug outbreaks in vineyards in the Western Cape Province, were Anoplolepis custodiens (F. Smith), A. steingroeveri (Forel) and Linepithema humile (Mayrn). Crematogaster peringueyi Emery, Crematogaster sp. 2 and C. melanogaster Emery are three arboreal species potentially dominant in vines only. Dominance indices for Pheidole sp. 1 and Pheidole sp. 2 were low compared to the more aggressive Anoplolepis spp. and L. humile, indicating that the former two species were not economic significance. Edge effects occurred in five of the surveyed vineyards for three ant species. These edge effects indicate specific preferences of the ants for certain abiotic and microclimatic factors in vineyards, but could also be the result of interspecific competition.

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