Study Reveals Ants’ Role in Pest Control

A paper published in Proceedings of Royal Society B showed that ants can be more effective than pesticides at controlling pests that attack food crops, reports The Guardian. The research examined 17 crops in countries including the US, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Brazil, and compared yields and plant damage in areas with greater and lesser diversity of ants. The study found that a greater diversity of ants provided a greater diversity of pest control, and that some ant species were more effective—and less costly— than pesticides at controlling crop damage. In general, areas farmed with agroforestry provided better ant habitat and enjoyed the benefits of more ant species. Scientists caution, however, that the role of ants in agriculture is not completely understood, as they may increase numbers of pests that produce honeydew.