Colony of weaver ants

13 Jan

UPDATED 20/1/12

Weaver ants are very common ants in Malaysia. They are always mistaken by locals for ‘fire ants’  because of the colloquial name in Malay is semut api that bite people. But the truth was that the fire ants are a different genus to weaver ants and are harmless to people.

Weaver ants make nests in trees made of leaves stitched together using the silk produced by their larvae. During the day before yesterday, mum found a colony of them at the plants in front of our house and she was very furious.

She threw them into the drain and my sister was like ‘AHH’ and cannot do anything about it. My sister then try her luck to find another colony of them. After a long find, she found two colony, one big and a small one.

My sister stored the big colony in two long water bottles, both connected to each other. I enjoy seeing them crawl over the leaf and over the bottle, it’s like NATGEO in front of your very own eyes! I’m sooo excited. *blushes*

We reared them for approximately five days. The ants lived because my sister gave them food (honey, ants, CENTIPEDE) and water. Later that, we put them to free at a tree not far from our house.

#1 It’s the insect version of squeezing glue from a bottle.

This adult weaver in Australia holds a silk-producing larva in its jaws, spreading the larva’s sticky secretions to bind leaves for the colony nest.

Few animals match such intricate homemaking techniques.

(A weaver ant holding a larvae.)

#2 As weaver ants build a nest in Malaysia, they must pull one leaf toward another.

A long body—about a third of an inch—is a boon, as each ant grabs on to adjacent leaf edges with feet and jaws. If one body isn’t sufficient, the insects interlock to form chains.

(Weaver ants work together building their nests. That’s what you’ll see in my photographs too. It’s like Nat Geo in your hands!)

Photography by Mark W. Moffett, captions courtesy of National Geographic website.

-P

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