Indigenous Knowledge of the Edible Weaver Ant Oecophylla smaragdina Fabricius Hymenoptera: Formicidae from the Vientiane Plain, Lao PDR

Joost Van Itterbeeck, Niane Sivongxay, Bounthob Praxaysombath, Arnold van Huis

Abstract


Of major importance in realizing the potential of edible insects as a core element in improving food security, sustainable food production, and biodiversity conservation, are developments in sustainable exploitation of wild edible insect populations and in (semi-)cultivating and farming edible insects. Such developments can draw on both western science and indigenous knowledge. Oecophylla smaragdina Fabricius Hymenoptera: Formicidae, of which particularly the queen brood is commonly consumed in Thailand and the Lao PDR, is believed to have the potential to act as flagship/umbrella species in forest conservation and management, to be incorporated simultaneously as biological control agent and direct source of human food in agroforestry practices, and to be (semi-)cultivated. We provide a detailed account of indigenous knowledge of O. smaragdina and ant brood collection practices from the Vientiane Plain, Lao PDR, through focus group discussions and participant observations, and then reflect on sustainability and conservation issues, and on semi-cultivating constraints and possibilities embedded in indigenous knowledge and ant brood collection practices.

 


Keywords


Oecophylla smaragdina; entomophagy; edible insects; indigenous knowledge; Lao PDR; semi-cultivation; agroforestry

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ayieko, M. A., G. O. Obonyo, J. A. Odhiambo, P. L. Ogweno, J. Achacha, and J. Anyango. 2011. Constructing and Using a Light Trap Harvester: Rural Technology for Mass Collection of Agoro Termites (Macrotermes subhylanus). Research Journal of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology 3:105-109.

Berkes, F. 2008. Sacred Ecology. Routledge, New York.

Choo, J., E. L. Zent, and B. B. Simpson. 2009. The Importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Palm-Weevil Cultivation in the Venezuelan Amazon. Journal of Ethnobiology 29:113-128.

Crozier, R. H., P. S. Newey, E. A. Schlüns, and S. K. A. Robson. 2009. A Masterpiece of Evolution – Oecophylla Weaver Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 13:57-71.

Durst, P. B., and K. Shono. 2010. Edible Forest Insects: Exploring New Horizons and Traditional Practices. Paper Presented at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific meeting on Forest Insects as Food: Humans Bite Back, a Workshop on Asia-Pacific Resources and their Potential for Development. Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Gupta, C. S. 1968. Studies on the Population Structure of the Nests of the Indian Red Ant – Oecophylla smaragdina Fabr. (Formicidae – Hymenoptera). Paper Presented at the Symposium on Recent Advances in Tropical Ecology of the International Society for Tropical Ecology. Varanasi, India.

Heinze, J. and L. Keller. 2000. Alternative Reproductive Strategies: A Queen Perspective in Ants. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15:508-512.

Hölldobler, B. 1983. Territorial Behaviour in the Green Tree Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina). Biotropica 15:241-250.

Hölldobler, B. and E. O. Wilson. 1983. Queen Control in Colonies of Weaver Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 76:235-238.

Hölldobler, B. and E. O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg Berlin.

Hölldobler, B. and E. O. Wilson. 2009. The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. W.W. Norton, New York.

Lim, G. T. 2007. Enhancing the Weaver Ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), for Biological Control of a Shoot Borer, Hypsipyla robusta (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), in Malaysian Mahogany Plantations. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Entomology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.

Meyer-Rochow, V. B., K. Nonaka and S. Boulidam. 2008. More Feared than Revered: Insects and their Impact on Human Societies (with Some Specific Data on the Importance of Entomophagy in a Laotian Setting). Entomologie Heute 20:3-25.

Mingbuapha, K. and B. Poomsan Becker. 2003. Lao-English Dictionary. Paiboon Publishing, Bangkok.

Offenberg, J. and D. Wiwatwitaya. 2010. Sustainable Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) Farming: Harvest Yields and Effects on Worker Ant Density. Asian Myrmecology 3:55-62.

Ramos-Elorduy, J. 2006. Threatened Edible Insects in Hidalgo, Mexico and Some Measures to Preserve Them. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2:51.

Rastogi, N. 2007. Seasonal Pattern in the Territorial Dynamics of the Arboreal Ant Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 104:Jan-Apr.

Sribandit, W., D. Wiwatwitaya, S. Suksard and J. Offenberg. 2008. The Importance of Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina Fabricius) Harvest to a Local Community in Northeastern Thailand. Asian Myrmecology 2:129-138.

Van Huis, A., J. Van Itterbeeck, K. Klunder, E. Mertens, A. Halloran, G. Muir and P. Vantomme. 2013. Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. FAO, Rome.

Van Mele, P. 2008. A Historical Review of Research on the Weaver Ant Oecophylla in Biological Control. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 10:13-22.

Van Mele, P., N.T.T. Cuc, Z. Seguni, K. Camara and J. Offenberg. 2009. Multiple Sources of Local Knowledge: A Global Review of Ways to Reduce Nuisance from the Beneficial Weaver Ant Oecophylla. International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology 8:484–504.

Wongwiggarn, R. and P. Leksawasdi. 1988. Nest, Population and Development of Weaver Ant Oecophylla smaragdina F. Paper Presented at the 26th Kasetsart University Conference, Bangkok, Thailand.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14237/ebl.5.2014.125

Copyright (c) 2014 Ethnobiology Letters

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.