Borneo species (Sue, NSW, Australia)

I am trying to identify these ants, taken in a palm oil plantation near Bintulu, Sarawak, Borneo.

I have made the pictures very small, so hope there is enough detail.




Ant feast on fish_0717_3cm.jpg


Hi Sue,

You don't need much more detail to identify these ants! The species in your photographs is Oecophylla smaragdina, variously known as green ants, weaver ants or tailor ants. They are widely distributed across Southeast Asia and tropical Australia. These arboreal ants have a peculiar nest building behavior that involves weaving the leaves of living trees together using silk produced by their larvae.

It's not surprising that you encountered this species in an oil palm plantation. Weaver ants are both aggressively territorial and fiercely predatory and have been used as a biocontrol agent in various agricultural settings to minimize pest damage. This centuries-old practice extends to a broad range of crops, including coconut, cacao, coffee, citrus, eucalyptus, mango, timber and of course oil palm, whose beetle, bug and caterpillar invaders provide ready food for the resident weaver ant colony.

Thanks for your interest!

Alexandra Westrich & the AntAsk Team

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