Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plans (ISPs) Platform

Mass Rearing, Augmentation, and Conservation of the Biological Control Agents (BCAs): Lynx Spider, Oxyopes javanus, and Red Weaver Ant, Oecophylla smaragdina for the Management of Insect Pests of Cacao in the Philippines

Laboratory mass rearing set-up of the lynx spider, Oxyopes javanus

Cacao is a priority high value crop in the Philippines and one of the flagship exported crops of the Philippines in the 1980’s. But because of the agrarian reform program coupled with the high insect pest infestations from the cacao pod borer, the production of cacao declined, which cannot even support local cocoa processors.  Thus, the Philippines resorted to importation of raw materials. With the global concern of projected high deficit of raw materials for chocolate making, the Philippines is considered as one of the key suppliers because of its environmental suitability for growing cacao. This opportunity is being realized by the Philippines, such that expansion of cacao production all over the country is promoted by both the government and private industries.  The Philippines Cacao Roadmap is crafted aiming to produce 100,000MT by the year 2022. However, before the Philippines can avail of this market opportunity, production constraints particularly from insect pests and diseases must be addressed.

Laboratory mass rearing set-up of the red weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina

The most important insect pests of cacao in the Philippines are cacao pod borer (CPB), Conopomorpha cramerella (Snellen) and cacao mirid bug (CMB), Helopeltis bakeri Poppius, both insects attack the pods, which can lead to significant decreases in production if their populations are not managed.  Farmers usually resort to the use of chemical control, but this is becoming unpopular because of the high cost and health risk to people and the environment.  Alternatively, sleeving or bagging of pods with plastic is being used but this is labor intensive and costly. The use of biological control agents such as the predators was explored in the control of CPB and CMB. Two key predators were found in direct association and abundant in the cacao fields, namely: Oxypes javanus, the lynx spider; and Oecophylla smaragdina, the red weaver ant. The rearing system was developed for the two predators. In O. javanus mass rearing using artificial diet was successful, which generated 2 generations. Likewise, mass rearing of O. smaragdina was successful with the development of full colonies. However, the cost for the mass rearing system for both predators to produce enough adults for release in the field was very expensive and uneconomical. To address this issue, we developed protocols for the augmentation and conservation of the two predators in the cacao field.

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