The coffee berry borer is currently the most important insect pest of coffee worldwide. In shaded coffee farms such as Finca Irlanda in Chiapas, Mexico, natural enemies limit coffee berry borer and potentially prevent outbreaks. This research aimed to determine the effect of ants on coffee berry borer damage and to describe behaviors of Azteca instabilis F. Smith and Pheidole synanthropica (Longino 2009) when encountering the coffee berry borer. To these ends, an ant survey was conducted in a 2,500-m2 plot within the farm. A 4- by 4-m coordinate system was established, and the coffee plant or shade tree closest to the coordinate point was sampled using tuna fish for a total of 168 coffee plants and 46 shade trees sampled. In addition, up to 100 berries were harvested from 138 coffee plants to measure damage and verify the presence of the coffee berry borer. Behavior was determined in the field by placing live coffee berry borer adults on berries and video recording all attacks. Results showed that plants with ants had less percentage of damaged berries and shorter coffee berry borer galleries than plants without ants. However, the length of galleries in plants with A. instabilis showed no significant differences from plants without ants. P. synanthropica was observed carrying coffee berry borer to the nest in 50% of the cases, whereas A. instabilis threw coffee berry borer off of the coffee plant in 79% of the cases. Results indicate that the presence of these species of ants reduce coffee berry borer damage and suggest that different behaviors could explain the pattern of coffee berry borer attack in this agroecosystem.
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