BACKGROUND: Leaf-cutting ants are considered to be one of the most important pest species of the New World. Until now, control strategies against these leaf-cutting ants have mainly been synthetic chemicals. The aim of the present study was to test the action of several plant extracts quoted as an example by TRAMIL participative surveys for their insecticidal properties on adult major workers of Acromyrmex octospinosus. Three tests were used to that end: contact toxicity, repellent test and ingestion bioassay. Six traditional plant uses recommended by interviewed people in surveys were tested: (1) maceration of Mammea americana fresh crushed seeds; (2) decoction of Nerium oleander fresh leaves; (3) Nerium oleander dried leaf water juice; (4) decoction of Nicotiana tabacum dried leaves; (5) Trichillia pallida dried leaf water juice; (6) decoction of Rollinia mucosa dried seeds.
RESULTS: Two plant extracts with contact toxicity (Mammea americana and Nicotiana tabacum), six plant extracts with repellent activity and four plant extracts with ingestion toxicity (Mammea americana, Nicotiana tabacum and both extracts of Nerium oleander) were found.
CONCLUSION: The data presented in this study showed that plant extracts cited by TRAMIL ethnopharmacological surveys have the potential to control the leaf-cutting ant, Acromyrmex octospinosus. In particular, the Mammea americana extract, with its natural low repellent effect and its high toxicity by ingestion, and Nerium oleander extracts, with their natural delay action, are possibly the best extracts for the control of these ants. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry