Host plants and associated trophobionts of the weaver ants Oecophylla spp. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Weaver ants (Oecophylla spp.) are often found on plants with insect symbionts (trophobionts), but the extent of such associations is not known. Examination of literature records of weaver ant host plants from 1900 to 2006 revealed that Oecophylla smaragdina, native to Asia, was recorded on 175 plant species in 46 families, with 28 associated trophobiont species in 7 families. Oecophylla longinoda, native to Africa, was recorded on 66 plant species in 34 families with 17 associated trophobiont species in 6 families. Both Oecophylla spp. shared host records on 17 economically important plant species. Such host plants could be used to augment establishment of weaver ants, facilitating their role as deterrents of phytophagous insect pests of economically important plants. O. smaragdina-tended trophobionts were recorded associating with the ants on several crops but rarely considered to be pests. Thus, the risk of trophobionts associated with Oecophylla ants being pests is considered minimal.