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The wonderful weaver ant

The wonderful weaver ant. What are these ants up to?

Well they are building this: ( a close up of their next, showing the leaves patched together with silk)

YOu may see them abandoned in the winter, when the trees shed their leaves, like below.

This is where the weaver ants live, and the photos show a typical nest that can be found in trees and bushes.

Built by the workers, the leaves are woven together and secured by silk produced by the larvae. Fascinating to watch, as first a row of ants lines up along the edge of a green leaf and, grasping a nearby leaf, pull the two leaves together, edge to edge. Other workers on the far side of the leaves, carrying a larva in its mouth, (see the pic below) applies the tips of the abdomens of the larvae to each leaf edge in turn.

This produces a suture of fine silken threads that secures the leaves together. More leaves are attached in a similar manner to enlarge the nest.

In India, the adult ants are used in traditional medicine as a remedy for rheumatism, and an oil made from them is used for stomach infections and as an aphrodisiac. The pupae are said to have a taste variously described as creamy, sour and lemony. Yum, yum.

SEE THEM Look for the large nests in trees on branches, or see them carrying their prey on the ground or up walls.

Here a queen, which gives them their name.

They can often be seen with prey much larger than themselves, like this hornet.

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