Oecophylla smaragdina

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Oecophylla smaragdina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Oecophyllini
Genus: Oecophylla
Species: O. smaragdina
Binomial name
Oecophylla smaragdina
(Fabricius, 1775)



Specimen Label


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

Photo Gallery

  • Foragers gathering honeydew from scale insects. Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand. Photo by Christian Peeters.
  • Leaf nest woven with larval silk. Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand. Photo by Christian Peeters.
  • Pleometrotic colony foundation from Kakadu, NT, Australia. The first workers born were small, accentuating the dimorphism in body size relative to queens. Photo by David Maitland.
  • Oecophylla smargdina attending a Redspot butterfly Larva (Zesius chrysomallus, Lycaenidae). The ants protect the caterpillar from predators while receiving sugary nectar from the dorsal nectar glands of the larva. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.
  • Lycaenid-Ant Interaction: Caterpillars of lycaenid butterflies (in this case Arhopala sp.) have evolved specialized organs that secrete chemicals to feed and appease tending ants. Surla, Goa, India. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.
  • Oecophylla smaragdina with mimetic spider that was detected and attacked. Photo by Pavan Ramachandra.



Wetterer (2017) - The vast majority of O. smaragdina records come from areas with Tropical climates according to the Köppen-Geiger system: rainforest, monsoon, and savanna. However, >250 records come from areas classified on the map as having Subtropical climates, mostly in the Himalayan foothills of India and Nepal, southern China, northern Vietnam, and the southern coast of Queensland, Australia. Almost all these sites are classified as dry winter subtropical climate. A few O. smaragdina sites are classified as having Arid climates, all from warm semi-arid areas.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Indonesia, Krakatau Islands, Malaysia, New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India (type locality), Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand.
Palaearctic Region: China.

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).

Peeters and Andersen (1989) - A few aggregations of dealate queens were collected in coastal regions of Northern Territory, Australia. Newly mated queens can cooperate to found new colonies, but only one survives in established colonies of 0. smaragdina.

Pinkalski et al. (2015) - Colonies nesting in mango trees (Mangifera indica) in Darwin, Australia were found to deposit significant amounts of nitrogen on their host trees via their waste. This deposition increased when the ants were provided access to additional sucrose resources.

Cooperative retrieval of prey. From Thailand. Photo by Christian Peeters.


This species is a host for the  (Araujo et al., 2018).


Males and large workers outside a leaf nest. From Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand. Photo by Christian Peeters.




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

  • smaragdina. Formica smaragdina Fabricius, 1775: 828 (q.) INDIA. Jerdon, 1851: 121 (w.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953e: 176 (l.); Crozier, 1970: 115 (k.). Combination in Oecophylla: Smith, F. 1860b: 102. Senior synonym of viridis: Smith, F. 1857a: 53; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127; of macra, zonata: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 176; of virescens: Mayr, 1872: 143; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127. Current subspecies: nominal plus fuscoides, gracilior, gracillima, selebensis, subnitida.
  • virescens. Formica virescens Fabricius, 1775: 392 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Smith, F. 1858b: 30 (m.). Combination in Oecophylla: Smith, F. 1860b: 102. Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 177; Emery, 1921c: 102. Subspecies of smaragdina: Emery, 1887a: 242; Forel, 1915b: 95; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 228 (in key); Emery, 1925b: 52; Karavaiev, 1933a: 315. Junior synonym of smaragdina: Mayr, 1872: 143; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127.
  • viridis. Formica viridis Kirby, W. 1819: 478 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of virescens: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 177; Emery, 1925b: 52; of smaragdina: Smith, F. 1857a: 53; Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 127.
  • macra. Formica macra Guérin-Méneville, 1831, pl. 8, fig. 1 (w.) "Offack". Junior synonym of virescens: Smith, F. 1858b: 29; of smaragdina: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 176; Arnold, 1922: 609.
  • zonata. Formica zonata Guérin-Méneville, 1838: 205 (q.) "Port Praslin". Junior synonym of smaragdina: Roger, 1863b: 10; Dalla Torre, 1893: 176.

Type Material



  • 2n = 16, karyotype = 16M (India) (Imai et al., 1984).
  • n = 8 (Malaysia) (Crozier, 1970b).