Keywords: Oecophylla, local knowledge, learning, communication, ecological literacy, agricultural resources, governance, weaver ants, weaver ant nuisance, nuisance reduction, rural radio, interactive radio
Multiple sources of local knowledge: a global review of ways to reduce nuisance from the beneficial weaver ant Oecophylla
The weaver ants Oecophylla smaragdina and O. longinoda are abundant in tropical Asia, Australia and Africa. Although local people and a handful of scientists appreciate the benefits these tree-dwelling ants bring in terms of medicinal and food source, protection of tree crops, and enhancement of fruit and nut quality, Oecophylla has one major drawback: it also bites people. Perception of this nuisance, and the response to it, is influenced by the frequency of encounters and the perceived benefits gained from Oecophylla. We used a range of methods in more than ten countries to document how people reduce weaver ant nuisance, including interactive rural radio programs. Apart from growers, also ant brood collectors, fruit-pickers and intermediaries in the value chain hold in-depth ecological knowledge on weaver ants. Ways to make Oecophylla more widely accepted and build ecological literacy at various levels of the society are discussed.