Weaver Ants

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online

The classic nest Weaving Ants are the Oecophylla. You can read all about their life history, including their silk weaving nesting biology in Chapter 19 of the The Ants

Dumpert (1996) - Mature larvae of many ants spin a pupal cocoon with silk from their labial gland. In weaver ants, however, this silk is also used for nest construction. Like weaver's shuttles worker ants take large larvae with their mandibles and use the silk excreted by them for spinning together leaves or to form flexible and firm carton nest walls out of particles with help of the fresh sticky silk. Natural preformed nesting sites are rather limited in the canopy region of the forest. By constructing free-hanging nests in this habitat, the weaver ants get access to the leaf and crown region in this way. Until recently four independent groups of weaver ants were known, two from the Old World tropics, Oecophylla, the kerengga ants, and Polyrhachis and two from the New World tropics, the Camponotus subgenera Myrmobrachys and Dendromyrmex. All of them belong to the subfamily Formicinae.

In 1984 we discovered in Peninsular Malaysia near the Ulu Gombak Field Studies Centre of the University of Malaya an Old World silk weaving Camponotus species, Camponotus texens. It produces silk carton nests mainly beneath leaves of trees, which contain brood as well as trophobiotic Homoptera symbionts. This species turned out to belong to the subgenus Karavaievia from which two species and one subspecies were described from Singapore and Borneo. Since then we discovered eleven further species, of which six had been described. All are weaver ants which produce silk carton nests. As Camponotus (Karavaievia) dolichoderoides overbecki discovered by Viehmeyer (1915) was also found in carton pavilions we can suppose that the whole subgenus is silk weaving.