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Joost van Itterbeeck

Page history last edited by joost.vanitterbeeck@wur.nl 6 years, 11 months ago

I work on the Asian weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina, one of the most favoured edible insects in Thailand and Laos (notably larvae and pupae of the queen caste which are seasonally available are consumed).

Work conducted:

  • recording of indigenous knowledge (focus group discussions, participant observations; focus on biological and ecological aspects of the ant species including behavior, development, nutritional ecology, host tree species, and the effect of using the species as human food on the ants.)
  • survey on individual ant colonies (this ant species lives in the tree canopy and constructs nests of living leaves; each colony consists of many nests and occupies several trees; I mapped several colonies by recording e.g. tree heights, number of nests in each tree occupied by the colony, nest sizes, and nest location in the canopy; the survey was aimed to locate the queen nest as to able to locate the queen nest without the need of cutting down nests thus identifying characteristics of the queen nest and queen nest location within a colony's territory.)
  • experiment on ant behaviour (a 'feedback of warning' was hypothesized; the experiment involved disturbing each nest of a colony starting from the nest furthest from the queen nest; after each disturbance of a nest, measurements were taken at the queen nest of ant trail density and number of ants on the queen nest exterior - analyzed as 'before-and-after'; observations were also made on evacuation speed of the queen - comparison of this evacuation speed with prior disturbance of non-queen nests and without prior disturbance of non-queen nests.)
  • harvesting experiment (production of queen caste larvae and pupae is compared between colonies where these larvae and pupae were removed and colonies where they are not removed, time lag was 6 weeks.) 

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