Effect of natural aerial crown connections between leaves and branches of coconut palms and interplanted citrus trees on interactions between Pheidole megacephala Fabricius and Oecophylla longinoda Latreille.
The effect of natural aerial crown interconnections between coconut palms and interplanted citrus on survival and movements of Oecophylla longinoda colonies between the trees was studied in a coconut-citrus plantation at Kiimbwanindi, Tanzania. The overlapping leaves and branches of coconut and citrus trees facilitated movements of O. longinoda from the citrus trees to coconut palms and effected control of the coconut bug Pseudotheraptus wayi. Crown connections also enabled O. longinoda to forage between citrus trees and coconut palms aerially, by-passing the ground nesting inimical ant, Pheidole megacephala. In the absence of crown connections P. megacephala normally prevented establishment of O. longinoda. Moreover when crown connections were lost, an O. longinoda colony became isolated and was easily displaced by P. megacephala. Interplanting coconut with citrus is economically useful and is also a sustainable way of managing P. wayi through the encouragement of O. longinoda. Smallholder farmers are strongly advised to adopt the cultural practice in order to effect protection of their coconut crop from P. wayi. It is a cost effective method because farmers do not have to use insecticides to reduce populations of P. megacephala.