Oecophylla longinoda

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Oecophylla longinoda
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Oecophyllini
Genus: Oecophylla
Species: O. longinoda
Binomial name
Oecophylla longinoda
(Latreille, 1802)

MCZ ENT Oecophylla longinoda hal.jpg

MCZ ENT Oecophylla longinoda had.jpg

Specimen Label


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

Photo Gallery

  • Alate queen with both major and minor (bottom) worker, showing the very pronounced variations in body size. Photo by Paul Van Mele.



Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal (type locality), Sierra Leone, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check 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).

Nene et al. 2015 (abstract): Mating in most species of ants occur during nuptial flights. In the African weaver ant, Oecophylla longinoda Latreille, mating has previously been hypothesized to take place within the nest before the nuptial flight but no research data has ever been presented to support this. Understanding the mating strategy of O. longinoda is important for its successful application in biological control programs. Here we report on the findings from studies conducted in Tanzania to determine whether mating occur prior to dispersal flight. Winged O. longinoda queens collected at four steps; before taking flight, immediately after leaving the nest, up to 12h after leaving the nest and after settling naturally following the dispersal flights were examined. Mating in captivity with varied number of males and queens was also assessed. Results showed that no eggs hatched from any of the 527 winged queens that were collected prior to their dispersal flights and no mating attempts in captivity lead to viable offspring. Only eggs produced by queens collected after settling naturally (N=65) hatched into larvae. High percentages (88.73) of eggs that hatched were laid by queens that shed wings and laid their eggs within 3 days after nuptial flights. Findings from the current study suggest that mating of O. longinoda queens take place during a nuptial flight and does not take place within the nest, as previously suggested. Time from nuptial flights to shedding of wings and egg laying translates to hatchability of the eggs.

Association with Other Organisms

This species is a host for the encyrtid wasp Anagyrus lopezi (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (associate).

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 480,000 (Way, 1954; Holldobler & Wilson, 1978; Beckers et al., 1989)
  • Foraging behaviour: mass recruiter (Way, 1954; Holldobler & Wilson, 1978; Beckers et al., 1989)




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

  • longinoda. Formica longinoda Latreille, 1802c: 184, pl. 11, fig. 72 (w.) SENEGAL. Emery, 1892d: 564 (q.); Forel, 1913b: 339 (m.). Combination in Oecophylla: Mayr, 1863: 439. Junior synonym of virescens: Smith, F. 1858b: 29. Subspecies of smaragdina: Emery, 1892d: 564; Forel, 1907e: 15; Santschi, 1914b: 128; Santschi, 1919a: 345; Emery, 1925b: 52; Prins, 1965b: 77. Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 176; Emery, 1921c: 102; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 227; Santschi, 1928f: 211; Bolton, 1995b: 298. Senior synonym of brevinodis: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 945. Current subspecies: nominal plus annectens, claridens, fusca, rubriceps, rufescens, taeniata, textor. See also: Gotwald, 1973: 72; Hölldobler & Wilson, 1978: 19.
  • brevinodis. Oecophylla brevinodis André, 1890: 313 (w.) SIERRA LEONE. Santschi, 1919a: 345 (q.). Subspecies of longinoda: Dalla Torre, 1893: 176; of smaragdina: Stitz, 1916: 396. Junior synonym of longinoda: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 945.



  • n = 12 (Crozier, 1970b).


  • Beckers R., Goss, S., Deneubourg, J.L., Pasteels, J.M. 1989. Colony size, communication and ant foraging Strategy. Psyche 96: 239-256 (doi:10.1155/1989/94279).
  • Bolton, B. 1995b. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 298, Status as species)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 176, Status as species)
  • Emery, C. 1892f [1891]. Voyage de M. Ch. Alluaud dans le territoire d'Assinie (Afrique occidentale) en juillet et août 1886. Formicides. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 60: 553-574 (page 564, queen described)
  • Emery, C. 1892f [1891]. Voyage de M. Ch. Alluaud dans le territoire d'Assinie (Afrique occidentale) en juillet et août 1886. Formicides. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 60: 553-574 (page 564, Subspecies/race of smaragdina)
  • Emery, C. 1921g. Formiche tessitrici del genere Oecophylla fossili e viventi. Rend. Sess. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna Cl. Sci. Fis. (n.s.) 25: 99-105 (page 102, Status as species)
  • Emery, C. 1925b. Revision des espèces paléarctiques du genre Tapinoma. Rev. Suisse Zool. 32: 45-64 (page 52, Subspecies/race of smaragdina)
  • Forel, A. 1907h. Formiciden aus dem Naturhistorischen Museum in Hamburg. II. Teil. Neueingänge seit 1900. Mitt. Naturhist. Mus. Hambg. 24: 1-20 (page 15, Subspecies/race of smaragdina)
  • Forel, A. 1913b. Formicides du Congo Belge récoltés par MM. Bequaert, Luja, etc. Rev. Zool. Afr. (Bruss.) 2: 306-351 (page 339, male described)
  • Gotwald, W. H., Jr. 1973. Mouthpart morphology of the African ant Oecophylla longinoda Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 81: 72-78 (page 72, see also)
  • Hölldobler, B.; Wilson, E. O. 1978. The multiple recruitment systems of the African Weaver ant Oecophylla longinoda (Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 3: 19-60 (page 19, see also)
  • Latreille, P. A. 1802b. Histoire naturelle générale et particulière des Crustacés et des insectes. Tome 3. Familles naturelles des genres. Paris: F. Dufart, xii + 467 pp. (page 184, pl. 11, fig. 72 worker described)
  • Mayr, G. 1863a. Formicidarum index synonymicus. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 13: 385-460 (page 439, Combination in Oecophylla)
  • Nene, W. A., G. M. Rwegasira, J. Offenberg, M. Mwatawala, and M. G. Nielsen. 2015. Mating Behavior of the African Weaver Ant, Oecophylla longinoda (Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology. 62:396-400. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v62i3.650
  • Prins, A. J. 1965b. Notes on African Formicidae (Hymenoptera) - 2. J. Entomol. Soc. South. Afr. 28: 77-79 (page 77, Subspecies/race of smaragdina)
  • Santschi, F. 1914b. Voyage de Ch. Alluaud et R. Jeannel en Afrique Orientale, 1911-1912. Résultats scientifiques. Insectes Hyménoptères. II. Formicidae. Paris: Libr. A. Schulz, pp. 41-148. (page 128, Subspecies/race of smaragdina)
  • Santschi, F. 1919a. Cinq notes myrmécologiques. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 52: 325-350 (page 345, Subspecies/race of smaragdina)
  • Santschi, F. 1928f. Descriptions de nouvelles fourmis éthiopiennes (suite). Rev. Zool. Bot. Afr. 16: 191-213 (page 211, Status as species)
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 29, Junior synonym of virescens)
  • Wetterer, J.K. 2017. Geographic distribution of the African weaver ant, Oecophylla longinoda. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 143: 501-510.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922b. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. II. The ants collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 39-269 (page 227, Status as species)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922j. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VIII. A synonymic list of the ants of the Ethiopian region. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 711-1004 (page 945, Senior synonym of brevinodis)