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; another name is kerengga (real fire ants are in a different genus, Solenopsis). The larvae and pupae are collected and processed into bird food, fish bait and in the production of traditional medicines in Thailand and Indonesia.
Got this photo during my visit in my home province Libon, Albay, Philippines. The weaver ants built their home on the branch of a Pili nut tree. I saw the big red ants trekking downward through a barb wires tied in the tree trunk.
Oecophylla weaver ants are known for their remarkable cooperative behaviour used in nest construction. Possibly the first description of weaver ant's nest building behaviour was made by the English naturalist Joseph Banks, who took part in Captain James Cook's voyage to Australia in 1768. An excerpt from Joseph Banks' Journal (cited in Hölldobler and Wilson 1990) is included below: The ants...one green as a leaf, and living upon trees, where it built a nest, in size between that of a man's head and his fist, by bending the leaves together, and gluing them with whitish paperish substances which held them firmly together. In doing this their management was most curious: they bend down four leaves broader than a man's hand, and place them in such a direction as they choose. This requires a much larger force than these animals seem capable of; many thousands indeed are employed in the joint work. I have seen as many as could stand by one another, holding down such a leaf, each drawing down with all his might, while others within were employed to fasten the glue. How they had bent it down I had not the opportunity of seeing, but it was held down by main strength, I easily proved by disturbing a part of them, on which the leaf bursting from the rest, returned to its natural situation, and I had an opportunity of trying with my finger the strength of these little animals must have used to get it down.
Lat: 13.22, Long: 123.61
Spotted on Jun 18, 2012
Submitted on Jun 18, 2012