Effect of Ants on Biological Control of Pomegranate Carob Moth by Trichogramma Wasps in Pomegranate Orchards

Document Type : Research Article


Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Pomegranate carob moth with the scientific name Ectomyelois ceratoniae Zeller (Lep.: Pyralidae) is a key pest of pomegranate and causes an economic damage to the quantity and quality of pomegranate fruits. According to the reports, from 20 to 80% of the pomegranate fruits in the gardens and warehouses are attacked by the carob moth and suffer damage (Fotouhi et al., 2021). Various methods have been recommended to control the pomegranate carob moth (Shojaei & Esmaili, 1987), including chemical control, the use of optical traps, fabric nets, flag removal, repellent compounds such as processed kaolin at a 5% concentration applied every 20 days in four stages, the collection and destruction of infected fruits on trees and garden floors, the use of resistant cultivars, and the introduction of Trichogramma wasps. However, none of these methods have yet achieved a decisive reduction in the pest population. Considering the importance of organic pomegranate production, the necessity of further studies on non-chemical pest control methods, especially biological control using Trichogramma wasps, is emphasized (Fotouhi et al., 2021). Field observations indicate that the release of Trichogramma wasps is effective through various factors, including arthropods that prey on parasitized eggs on Trichocards. So far, only a handful of studies have examined the effect of predators on the emergence rate of Trichogramma wasps on Trichocards during the release stage. For example, Al Rouechdi, and Voegele (1981) reported that after installing trichocards on plants due to the phenomenon of predation, a considerable number of wasps were destroyed before hatching and emergence of adult wasps. Also, Bento et al. (1998) and Bento (1999) announced the reduction of Trichogramma wasps (T. cacoeciae) efficiency due to the activity of predators. According to Gomes et al. (1998), ants are one of the important predators of parasitized eggs of cereal willow and thus reduce the efficiency of biological control. Suh et al. (2000) also announced the low efficiency of Trichogramma species (T. exiguum) in controlling cotton pests due to the activity of ants on parasitized eggs during the release of Trichogramma. Perira et al. (2004) evaluated the destructive effects of predators on the Trichogramma wasps (T. cacoeciae) biocontrol agent of olive willow in Portugal and reported that more than 99% of the predators of released parasite eggs are ants. Kerguntiol et al. (2013) in a research in Uruguay on reducing the destructive effect of predators on the emergence rate of Trichogramma wasps from Trichocards, considered two species of ants responsible for the destruction of parasitized eggs and with changes in the packaging of release units to somewhat reduced the effect of ants.
Despite the destructive role of predators in release stage of Trichoramma wasps for controlling plant pests, so far, no research has been done in Iran on the identification of the predators of parasitized eggs on trichocards and the extent of their influence during the release stage of Trichogramma wasps for the biological control of carob moth (Ectomyelois ceratoniae Zeller). The present research aims to identify different groups of predators of parasitized eggs and estimate the effect of predators on the loss rate of Trichogramma wasps during the release phase in pomegranate orchards.
Material and Methods
A research was conducted in a pomegranate orchard with an area of two hectares located in the village of Hoz Sarkh, in the central district of Torbat-e- Heydarieh, in Razavi Khorasan province of Iran, in 2019. This research was conducted in the form of a factorial two-factor experiment, each factor at two levels in a completely randomized basis with 5 replications. 
Results and Discution
 In this study, a total of six species of ants namely Pheidole pallidula  (Nylander, 1849), Crematogaster subdentata Mayr, 1877, Tapinoma erraticum (Latreille, 1798), Lepisiota frauenfeldi (Mayr, 1855), and Camponotus sanctus Forel, 1904 from three subfamilies of family Formicidae including Formicinae, Dolichoderinae, Myrmicinae, one species of Dermaptera (Forficula auricularia L.), a species of Hemiptera (Geocoris sp.) as well as a few specimens of a spider were collected and identified from the surveyed trichocards. Also, the results of this study showed that ants and other predators destroy a significant number of the parasitized eggs on trichocards and this cause a significant decrease in the efficiency of this egg parasitoid. The mortality rate of aprasitized eggs on trichocards embedded with grease was significantly lower than those tichocards without grease. Furthemore, the height of the installation of trichocards also showed a significant effect on the loss rate of Trichogramma wasps. In addition, the height of installation of trichocards also showed a significant effect on the loss rate of Trichogramma wasps. So that at high height in both the grease and non-grease treatments at different times, the loss rate of Trichogramma wasps was lower.
 In conclusion, according to the results of this research, in order to protect the trichocards from ants' attacks and reduce the damage caused by them, it is necessary to pay attention to the release plan of Trichogramma wasps in such a way that the maximum number of wasps emerge in less than 24 hours of the initial installation of the trichocards. Moreover, trichocards should be installed at higher height (150 centimetrs above the ground level) by using a wire coated with a sticky substance such as grease.




Main Subjects

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