Oecophylla smaragdina weaver ant

Weaver Ant

Oecophylla smaragdina

World distribution map Oecophylla smaragdina weaver ant

Scientific names

Oecophylla smaragdina (featured), Oecophylla sp.

 

Distribution

Found in Australia and South East Asia, particularly Philippines.

 

Habitat

Their nests are found in forest trees.

 

Diet

They farm scale bugs for their honeydew, and eat small insects.

 

Colony size

Established colonies can reach up to half a million individuals.

 

Introduction

Weaver ants are best known for their remarkable nest construction. Using precise coordination, the weaver ants create very strong ant chains by linking legs to pull and bend leaves into desired tent like positions. The ants then use their own larvae to secrete a silk that is used to stitch leaves together to create a nest. They may have several nests dominating a few trees at once.

 

They are very aggressive territorial ants and for over 1000 years they have often been used by farmers to control agricultural pests.

 

Oecophylla smaragdina workers have a vice like grip and tremendous strength. A worker has been recorded to support 100 times its own weight whilst standing upside down on glass, see ant facts no 2.

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Queen

20-25mm, a strong ant, normally green and brown, monogyn (one queen per colony).


Workers

5-6mm. Mostly orange. Sometimes this species has green gasters. Minor workers tend to look after the brood and farm scale bugs for honey dew.


Major workers

8-10mm. Mostly orange, this ant has long strong legs, long flexible antennae and large mandibles. These ants forage, maintain and expand the nest.

 

 

Risk level 3

Strong mandibles allow for a painful slicing bite, they spray formic acid into any wounds. A very aggressive ant.


Pet level 3

Risk declarations must be completed if this species is housed outside of its country of origin.

 

Weaver ants are high maintenance and tricky to keep in captivity. They require controlled temperatures, humidity, live leafy trees, lots of live bugs for food and a suitable sized tank to hold the tree. The equipment setup is expensive. Its best to see them in the wild or museums and zoos.