Oecophylla smaragdina: Weaver ants

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^ Oecophylla smaragdinaWorking together to start building a new nest! 

Oecophylla smaragdina [common names include weaver ant, green ant, green tree ant, and orange gaster] is a species of arboreal ant found in Asia and Australia. They make nests in trees made of leaves stitched together using the silk produced by their larvae.

Weaver ants may be red or green. In Malaysia they are sometimes mistakenly labelled “fire ants” because a colloquial name in Malay is semut api.

The larvae and pupae are collected and processed into bird food, fish bait and in the production of traditional medicines in Thailand and Indonesia.

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Weaver ants or Green ants [genus Oecophylla] are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae. Weaver ants are obligately arboreal and are known for their unique nest building behavior 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 contain more than half a million workers.

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Oecophylla weaver ants vary in color from reddish to yellowish brown dependent on the species. Oecophylla smaragdina found in Australia often have bright green gasters. These ants are highly territorial and workers aggressively defend their territories against intruders. Because of their aggressive behavior, weaver ants are sometime used by indigenous farmers, particularly in southeast Asia, as natural biocontrol agents against agricultural pests. Although Oecophylla weaver ants lack a functional sting they can inflict painful bites and often spray formic acid directly at the bite wound resulting in intense discomfort.

The weaver ants belong to the ant genus Oecophylla [subfamily Formicinae] which contains two closely related living species: Oecophylla longinoda found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Oecophylla smaragdina found in southern India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The weaver ant genus Oecophylla is relatively old, and 15 fossil species have been found from the Eocene to Miocene deposits.

Photos: Pulau UbinSingapore, 20130706

Source: Wikipedia

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