Oecophylla smaragdina

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Oecophylla smaragdina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Oecophyllini
Genus: Oecophylla
Species: O. smaragdina
Binomial name
Oecophylla smaragdina
(Fabricius, 1775)



Specimen Label


Aggressive arboreal ants that use larval silk to weave together leaves to form their nesting cavities. A mature colony of Oecophylla smaragdina can entirely dominate a tree (sometimes several) with nests distributed throughout their heavily defended arboreal territory.

Photo Gallery

  • Lycaenid-Ant Interaction: Caterpillars of lycaenid butterflies (in this case Arhopala sp.) have evolved specialized organs that secrete chemicals to feed and appease tending ants. Surla, Goa, India. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.
  • Foragers gathering honeydew from scale insects. Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand. Photo by Christian Peeters.
  • Leaf nest woven with larval silk. Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand. Photo by Christian Peeters.
  • Pleometrotic colony foundation from Kakadu, NT, Australia. The first workers born were small, accentuating the dimorphism in body size relative to queens. Photo by David Maitland.



Wetterer (2017) - The vast majority of O. smaragdina records come from areas with Tropical climates according to the Köppen-Geiger system: rainforest, monsoon, and savanna. However, >250 records come from areas classified on the map as having Subtropical climates, mostly in the Himalayan foothills of India and Nepal, southern China, northern Vietnam, and the southern coast of Queensland, Australia. Almost all these sites are classified as dry winter subtropical climate. A few O. smaragdina sites are classified as having Arid climates, all from warm semi-arid areas.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Indonesia, Krakatau Islands, Malaysia, New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India (type locality), Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand.
Palaearctic Region: China.

Check distribution from AntMaps.

{{#display_map: |width=600 |height=500 |centre=5,115 |gkml=http://www.antweb.org/googleEarth.do?google=genus=Oecophylla---species=smaragdina |kmlrezoom=no |zoom=3 |resizable=yes |controls=pan, zoom, type, scale |markercluster=yes }}

Check specimen data from AntWeb


There is a webpage with a list of some recent publications about weaver ants. You can also read an overview of their biology from the a chapter in The Ants: The Weaver Ants (Hölldobler and Wilson 1990).

Peeters and Andersen (1989) - A few aggregations of dealate queens were collected in coastal regions of Northern Territory, Australia. Newly mated queens can cooperate to found new colonies, but only one survives in established colonies of 0. smaragdina.

Pinkalski et al. (2015) - Colonies nesting in mango trees (Mangifera indica) in Darwin, Australia were found to deposit significant amounts of nitrogen on their host trees via their waste. This deposition increased when the ants were provided access to additional sucrose resources.





The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • smaragdina. Formica smaragdina Fabricius, 1775: 828 (q.) INDIA. Jerdon, 1851: 121 (w.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953e: 176 (l.); Crozier, 1970: 115 (k.). Combination in Oecophylla: Smith, F. 1860b: 102. Senior synonym of viridis: Smith, F. 1857a: 53; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127; of macra, zonata: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 176; of virescens: Mayr, 1872: 143; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127. Current subspecies: nominal plus fuscoides, gracilior, gracillima, selebensis, subnitida.
  • virescens. Formica virescens Fabricius, 1775: 392 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Smith, F. 1858b: 30 (m.). Combination in Oecophylla: Smith, F. 1860b: 102. Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 177; Emery, 1921c: 102. Subspecies of smaragdina: Emery, 1887a: 242; Forel, 1915b: 95; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 228 (in key); Emery, 1925b: 52; Karavaiev, 1933a: 315. Junior synonym of smaragdina: Mayr, 1872: 143; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127.
  • viridis. Formica viridis Kirby, W. 1819: 478 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of virescens: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 177; Emery, 1925b: 52; of smaragdina: Smith, F. 1857a: 53; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127.
  • macra. Formica macra Guérin-Méneville, 1831, pl. 8, fig. 1 (w.) "Offack". Junior synonym of virescens: Smith, F. 1858b: 29; of smaragdina: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 176; Arnold, 1922: 609.
  • zonata. Formica zonata Guérin-Méneville, 1838: 205 (q.) "Port Praslin". Junior synonym of smaragdina: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 176.

Type Material



  • Baltazar, C. R. 1966. A catalogue of Philippine Hymenoptera (with a bibliography, 1758-1963). Pac. Insects Monogr. 8: 1-488 (page 268, listed)
  • Bharti, H & Kaur, I. 2011. SEM studies on immature stages of weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina from India. Halteres 3, 16-25.
  • Bharti, H. & Silla, S. 2011. Notes on life history of Oecophylla smaragdina and its potential as biological control agent. Halteres 3, 57-64.
  • Cole, A. C., Jr.; Jones, J. W., Jr. 1948. A study of the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Fab.). American Midland Naturalist 39:641-651. [1948-07-28] PDF
  • Crozier, R. H. 1970a. Karyotypes of twenty-one ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with reviews of the known ant karyotypes. Can. J. Genet. Cytol. 12: 109-128 (page 115, karyotype described)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 176, Senior synonym of macra and zonata)
  • Fabricius, J. C. 1775. Systema entomologiae, sistens insectorum classes, ordines, genera, species adiectis synonymis, locis, descriptionibus, observationibus. Flensburgi et Lipsiae [= Flensburg and Leipzig]: Korte, 832 pp. (page 828, queen described)
  • Gill, Katherine & Ellen van Wilgenburg & Peter Taylor & Mark A. Elgar. 2012. Collective retention and transmission of chemical signals in a social insect. Naturwissenschaften, DOI 10.1007/s00114-012-0891-7.
  • Jerdon, T. C. 1851. A catalogue of the species of ants found in Southern India. Madras J. Lit. Sci. 17: 103-127 (page 121, worker, male described)
  • Mayr, G. 1872. Formicidae Borneenses collectae a J. Doria et O. Beccari in territorio Sarawak annis 1865-1867. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. 2: 133-155 (page 143, Senior synonym of virescens)
  • Offenberg, J., Havanon, S., Aksornkoae, S., MacIntosh, D. J., & Nielsen, M. G. (2004). Observations on the ecology of weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina Fabricius) in a thai mangrove ecosystem and their effect on herbivory of Rhizophora mucronata lam. Biotropica, 36(3), 344-351. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2004.tb00326.x PDF
  • Peeters, C. & Andersen, A.N. 1989. Cooperation between dealate queens during colony foundation in the Green Tree Ant, Oecophylla smaragdina. Psyche, 96: 39-44. PDF
  • Pierre, E.M. & Idris, A.H. 2013. Studies on the predatory activities of Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on Pteroma pendula (Lepidoptera: Psychidae) in oil palm plantations in Teluk Intan, Perak (Malaysia). Asian Myrmecology 5, 163-176.
  • Pinkalski, C., C. Damgaard, K. M. V. Jensen, R. K. Peng, and J. Offenberg. 2015. Quantification of Ant Manure Deposition in a Tropical Agroecosystem: Implications for Host Plant Nitrogen Acquisition. Ecosystems. 18:1373-1382. doi:10.1007/s10021-015-9906-5
  • Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 10, Senior synonym of macra and zonata)
  • Smith, F. 1857a. Catalogue of the hymenopterous insects collected at Sarawak, Borneo; Mount Ophir, Malacca; and at Singapore, by A. R. Wallace. [part]. J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool. 2: 42-88 (page 53, Senior synonym of viridis)
  • Smith, F. 1860b. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects collected by Mr. A. R. Wallace in the islands of Bachian, Kaisaa, Amboyna, Gilolo, and at Dory in New Guinea. J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool. 5(17b)(suppl. to vol. 4 4: 93-143 (page 102, Combination in Oecophylla)
  • Taylor, R. W.; Brown, D. R. 1985. Formicoidea. Zool. Cat. Aust. 2:1- 149: 1-149, 30 (page 127, Senior synonym of viridis)
  • Taylor, R. W.; Brown, D. R. 1985. Formicoidea. Zool. Cat. Aust. 2:1- 149: 1-149, 30 (page 127, Senior synonym of virescens)
  • Van Itterbeeck, J, Sivongxay, N, Praxaysombath, B & van Huis, A 2015. Preliminary observations on gravid queen protection in Oecophylla smaragdina: Evacuation and retinue function. Asian Myrmecology 7: 155-158.
  • Wetterer, J.K. 2017. Geographic distribution of the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina. Asian Myrmecology 9, e009004 (DOI 10.20362/am.009004).
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1953e. The ant larvae of the subfamily Formicinae. Part II. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 46: 175-217 (page 176, larva described)