The root weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus (L.), is a major pest of Florida citrus. When neonate larvae hatch from egg masses in the citrus canopy and drop to the soil surface before burrowing down to the roots for feeding, they are vulnerable to ant predation. However, neonates are reported to produce a chemical repellent that lasts up to four days and reduces ant predation by about 40%. We assessed the daily pattern of neonate drop from egg masses under laboratory conditions, examined the role of ants as predators of neonates (< 48 h post hatch) on the soil surface in three citrus groves in central Florida, and tested for chemical repellency in the field by comparing predation rates on 5-day versus 1-2 h old neonates. We conclude that ants are important predators of Diaprepes neonates in central Florida citrus groves and have potential for a conservation biological control program.
Species 1: Coleoptera Curculionidae Diaprepes abbreviatus (Diaprepes root weevil, Citrus root weevil)
Species 2: Hymenoptera Formicidae Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant)
Species 3: Hymenoptera Formicidae Pheidole moerens
Keywords: biological control, ants
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