Oecophylla

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Oecophylla
Temporal range: 48.6–0 Ma Eocene – Recent
Oecophylla smaragdina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Oecophyllini
Genus: Oecophylla
Smith, F., 1860
Type species
Formica virescens (junior synonym of Oecophylla smaragdina)
Diversity
15 species
16 fossil species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Oecophylla smaragdina casent0173647 profile 1.jpg

Oecophylla smaragdina

Oecophylla smaragdina casent0173647 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Synonyms
Evolutionary Relationships
Formicinae

Myrmelachistini
  (2 genera)




Lasiini
  (11 genera)




Melophorini
  (9 genera)




Formicini
  (8 genera)






Gesomyrmex
  (7 species)



Oecophylla
  (15 species)




Plagiolepidini
  (9 genera)





Gigantiops, Myrmoteras, Santschiella



Camponotini
  (8 genera)








Based on Ward et al. 2016.


Hita Garcia, Wiesel and Fischer (2013) - Two species of “weaver ants” are known: one from the Oriental and Indo-Australian regions and another that is found in the Afrotropics. The “red tree ant”, Oecophylla longinoda occurs in the latter region and is spread throughout the whole of sub-Saharan Africa (Weber, 1949c). Despite the large popularity of the genus (Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990), its taxonomy is in a very disappointing condition since it has not yet benefited from a modern taxonomic revision. Both species together contain 12 subspecies (Bolton, 2012), and it is unclear whether some of these merit species status or should just be regarded as junior synonyms. O. longinoda is one of the most well-studied ants from the Afrotropical region (Hölldobler & Lumsden, 1980; Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990). It is one of the dominant species in African forest canopies and is especially known for its “weaver ant” ability to bind tree leaves into nest compartments with silk spun by larvae (Hölldobler & Lumsden, 1980). A single colony can have more than 500,000 individuals and build hundreds of nests, in several trees, that are aggressively defended against other conspecific colonies and other ants (Hölldobler, 1979; Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990). These ants are predacious they and hunt large insect prey, not only in the canopy but also in the surrounding vegetation or on the ground. Oecophylla also tend honeydew-producing insects to supplement their diet (Weber, 1949c; Hölldobler & Lumsden, 1980).


Photo Gallery

  • The highly visual workers of Oecophylla are especially aware of their surroundings. (Photo by Steve Shattuck.)

Identification

AntWeb icon 02.png See images of species within this genus

Keys including this Genus

 

Distribution

Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps

Fossils

Fossils are known from: Baltic amber (Bartonian, Middle to Late Eocene), Bembridge Marls, Isle of Wight, UK (Priabonian, Late Eocene), Bitterfeld amber (Bartonian, Middle to Late Eocene), Bournemouth, Dorset, U.K. (Bartonian, Middle Eocene), Brunstatt, Haut-Rhin, France (Early Oligocene), Eckfeld, Germany (Lutetian, Middle Eocene), Kleinkems, Germany (Early Oligocene), Klondike Formation, Republic, Washington, United States (Lutetian, Middle Eocene), Mfwangano Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya (Early Miocene), Malyi Kamyshlak, Kerch, Crimea, Russian Federation (Middle Miocene), Messel, Germany (Lutetian, Middle Eocene), Montagne d'Andance, Saint-Bauzile, Ardèche, France (Early Turolian, Late Miocene), Radoboj, Croatia (Burdigalian, Early Miocene), Sicilian amber, Italy (Late/Upper Miocene), Vishnevaya Balka Creek, Stavropol, Russian Federation (Middle Miocene).

Biology

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).

Crozier et al. (2010) give a comprehensive synthesis of the biology of this genus, with only two species that are ecologically dominant over large parts of three continents.

Oecophylla smaragdina is also a popular food in Thailand (see Human Culture and Ants).

Association with Other Organisms

All Associate Records for Genus

Explore Associate Data: All, Drilldown
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Taxon Relationship Associate Type Associate Taxon Associate Relationship Locality Source Notes
Oecophylla longinoda host encyrtid wasp Anagyrus lopezi parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database associate
Oecophylla longinoda host fungus Akanthomyces gracilis parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest
Oecophylla longinoda host fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest
Oecophylla longinoda host fungus Stilbella burmensis parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest
Oecophylla longinoda host fungus Stilbum burmense parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest
Oecophylla smaragdina associate (details unknown) encyrtid wasp Anagyrus lopezi associate (details unknown) Quevillon, 2018
Oecophylla smaragdina host chalcid wasp Smicromorpha doddi parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database primary host
Oecophylla smaragdina host chalcid wasp Smicromorpha keralensis parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database primary host
Oecophylla smaragdina host chalcid wasp Smicromorpha lagynos parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest
Oecophylla smaragdina host chalcid wasp Smicromorpha masneri parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database associate, primary host
Oecophylla smaragdina host chalcid wasp Smicromorpha minera parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest
Oecophylla smaragdina host encyrtid wasp Paraphaenodiscus udayveeri parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database associate
Oecophylla smaragdina host fungus Beauveria bassiana parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission within nest
Oecophylla smaragdina host fungus Ophiocordyceps oecophyllae pathogen Araujo et al., 2018
Oecophylla smaragdina host fungus Stilbella spp. parasitoid Quevillon, 2018 encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest
Oecophylla smaragdina prey tiger beetle Cicindela duponti predator Western Ghats, India Sinu et al., 2006

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 48000, but up to >500000 (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Compound colony type: not parasitic (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Nest site: arboreal (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Diet class: omnivore (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Foraging stratum: subterranean/leaf litter; arboreal (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Foraging behaviour: cooperative (Greer et al., 2021)

Castes

Morphology

Worker Morphology

• Antennal segment count: 12 • Antennal club: absent-gradual, weak • Palp formula: 5,4 • Total dental count: 9-16 • Spur formula: 0, 0 • Eyes: >100 ommatidia • Pronotal Spines: absent • Mesonotal Spines: absent • Propodeal Spines: absent • Petiolar Spines: absent • Caste: trimorphic • Sting: absent • Metaplural Gland: absent • Cocoon: absent

Karyotype

All Karyotype Records for Genus

Explore Data: All, Drilldown
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Taxon Haploid Diploid Karyotype Locality Source Notes
Oecophylla longinoda 12 Crozier, 1970b
Oecophylla smaragdina 16 16M India Imai et al., 1984
Oecophylla smaragdina 8 Malaysia Crozier, 1970b

Nomenclature

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • OECOPHYLLA [Formicinae: Oecophyllini]
    • Oecophylla Smith, F. 1860b: 101. Type-species: Formica virescens (junior synonym of Formica smaragdina), by subsequent designation of Bingham, 1903: 310.
    • Oecophylla as senior synonym of †Camponotites Dlussky: Perfilieva, et al. 2017: 399 (in text) [by implication as type-species of †Camponotites Dlussky transferred to Oecophylla].
  • CAMPONOTITES [junior homonym of †Camponotites Steinbach; junior synonym of Oecophylla]
    • Camponotites Dlussky, 1981b: 76. Type-species: †Camponotites macropterus Dlussky, 1981b: 76, by monotypy.
    • Taxonomic history
    • Camponotites incertae sedis in Formicidae: Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990: 18; Dlussky & Rasnitsyn, 2002: 418; in Formicinae, Camponotini: Bolton, 1994: 50; Bolton, 1995b: 83; Bolton, 2003: 112.
    • Camponotites as junior homonym and junior synonym of †Camponotites Steinbach: Dlussky, et al. 2011: 451.
    • Camponotites as junior synonym of Oecophylla: Perfilieva, et al. 2017: 399 (in text) [by implication as type-species of †Camponotites Dlussky transferred to Oecophylla].

References