Weaver ants or green ants (genus Oecophylla) are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae (order Hymenoptera). weaver ants live in trees (they are obligately arboreal) and are known for their unique nest building behaviour where workers construct nests by weaving together leaves using larval silk. Colonies can be extremely large consisting of more than a hundred nests spanning numerous trees and containing more than half a million workers.
Like many other ant species, weaver ants prey on small insects and supplement their diet with carbohydrate-rich honeydew excreted by small insects.
weaver ant workers exhibit a clear bimodal size distribution, with almost no overlap between the size of the minor and major workers. The major workers are approximately 8–10 mm (0.31–0.39 in) in length and the minors approximately half the length of the majors. Major workers forage, defend, maintain, and expand the colony whereas minor workers tend to stay within the nests where they care for the brood and ‘milk’ scale insects in or close to the nests.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Clade: Euarthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Hymenoptera
- Family: Formicidae
- Subfamily: Formicinae
- Tribe: Oecophyllini
- Genus: Oecophylla
- Type species: Formica virescens
It is for this capacity to eliminate intruders that weaver ants are of interest to researchers. They have, in fact, developed effective strategies for hunting in groups on the leaves of the trees, but also on the soil at the foot of the tree in which they nest, and capturing any insects they find. Right at the start of this study, the researchers observed that the fruits of mango trees with numerous nests were much less severely damaged by fruit flies than others.
More in-depth studies confirmed their impact on the structure and composition of and fluctuations in neighbouring insect communities, particularly those of plant-eating insects, and showed that they prey mainly on larvae, as they leave infested fruits, and rarely on adults.
Ant nests are usually found in forest trees, but can also be seen in any high up crevices, including roofs and telegraph poles.
Weaver ant queens are typically around 20-25mm, they are normally greenish brown. They are a monogyn species (one queen per colony).
- Worker ants reach a size of 8 – 10 mm in length. They are major ants. Minor ants are only half the size of major workers.
- They have varied colors but most of them appear reddish brown.
- Ants live in Western Australia, Sri Lanka, and Melanesia.
- They will make habitats in tropical coastal areas, tropical or subtropical woodlands.
- Birds use ants that spray formic acid to kill mites living in their feathers. This includes the weaver ants. How do they do this? The birds pick up ants in their beaks and place them in their feathers.
- In Thailand and the Philippines, weaver ant pupae are harvested and sold as food. They are said to have a creamy flavor. Adult ants are also eaten and have a lemony or sour taste.
Weaver ant images