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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)
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

Evolutionary Relationships

  (2 genera)

  (10 genera)

  (9 genera)

  (8 genera)

  (7 species)

  (15 species)

  (9 genera)

Gigantiops, Myrmoteras, Santschiella

  (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.)


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

Keys including this Genus



Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


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).


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
Click here to show/hide associate data.
Taxon Relationship Associate Type Associate Taxon Associate Relationship Locality Source Notes
Oecophylla longinoda host encyrtid wasp Anagyrus lopezi parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database associate
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 masneri parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database associate, primary host
Oecophylla smaragdina host encyrtid wasp Paraphaenodiscus udayveeri parasite Universal Chalcidoidea Database associate
Oecophylla smaragdina host fungus Ophiocordyceps oecophyllae pathogen Araujo et al., 2018
Oecophylla smaragdina prey tiger beetle Cicindela duponti predator Western Ghats, India Sinu et al., 2006



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: present
  • Scrobes: absent
  • Caste: trimorphic
  • Sting: absent


All Karyotype Records for Genus

Explore Data: All, Drilldown
Click here to show/hide karyotype data.
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


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].


  • Agosti, D. 1991. Revision of the oriental ant genus Cladomyrma, with an outline of the higher classification of the Formicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Syst. Entomol. 16: 293-310. (page 295, Oecophylla in Formicinae, Oecophylla genus group)
  • Arnold, G. 1922. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part V. Myrmicinae. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 14: 579-674 (page 608, Oecophylla in Camponotinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 384, Oecophylla in Camponotinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Bingham, C. T. 1903. The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Hymenoptera, Vol. II. Ants and Cuckoo-wasps. London: Taylor and Francis, 506 pp. (page 310, Type-species: Formica virescens (junior synonym of Oecophylla smargdina), by subsequent designation)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 110, Oecophylla in Formicinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Crozier RH, Newey PS, Schlüns EA & Robson SKA 2009. A masterpiece of evolution – Oecophylla weaver ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 13: 57 – 71.
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 176, Oecophylla in Camponotinae)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 772, Oecophylla in Camponotinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 50, Oecophylla in Formicinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Forel, A. 1878c. Études myrmécologiques en 1878 (première partie) avec l'anatomie du gésier des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 15: 337-392 (page 361, Oecophylla in Camponotinae [Camponotidae])
  • Forel, A. 1912j. Formicides néotropiques. Part VI. 5me sous-famille Camponotinae Forel. Mém. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 20: 59-92 (page 89, Oecophylla in Camponotinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 250, Oecophylla in Camponotinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 651, Oecophylla in Formicinae [Formicidae])
  • Mayr, G. 1865. Formicidae. In: Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte "Novara" um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859. Zoologischer Theil. Bd. II. Abt. 1. Wien: K. Gerold's Sohn, 119 pp. (page 7, Oecophylla in Formicinae [Formicidae])
  • Mayr, G. 1868c. Die Ameisen des baltischen Bernsteins. Beitr. Naturkd. Preuss. 1: 1-102 (page 30, Oecophylla in Formicinae [Formicidae])
  • Perfilieva, K.S., Dubovikoff, D.A. & Dlussky, G.M. 2017. Miocene ants from Crimea. Paleontological Journal 51 (4): 391-401. (Paleontologicheskii Zhurnal 2017 (4): 54-64.)
  • 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 101, Oecophylla as genus)
  • Waldkircher, G., Webb, M.D., Maschwitz, U. 2004. Description of a new shieldbug (Hemiptera: Plataspidae) and its close association with a species of ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Southeast Asia. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 147, 21-28.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 143, Oecophylla in Camponotinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1915i [1914]. The ants of the Baltic Amber. Schr. Phys.-Ökon. Ges. Königsb. 55: 1-142 (page 113, Oecophylla in Camponotinae, Oecophyllini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 700, Oecophylla in Formicinae, Oecophyllini)