They herd scale bugs and various sap suckers in order to harvest the sugary secretions they produce. Often the ants will build a protective tent over these plant parasites to further protect them.
Interesting facts about Green Tree Ants
Green Tree Ants are Farmers
Weaver Ants have lamellae on their feet which feels like velcro. Uniquely adapted to life in the trees, they are extremely sticky and difficult to remove once they are on your skin.
In Weaver Ant societies, the older ants tend to finish their lives in the outlying nests of the ant ‘city’, the guard barracks. These mature female workers congregate in huge numbers in the outlying nests where they pour out and attack at the least provocation. Holldobler and Wilson said in their iconic ‘The Ants’ book that whilst we send our young men into battle, these ants send their old ladies!
Soldiers grow into their job!
Green Tree Ants are found in tropical areas of Northern and Eastern Australia
Green Tree Ants inhabittropical coastal areas, mainly because further from the coast is too arid. They are common across their range which is typically forested, areas where nests are built in the canopy or on the edge of forests.
They are found from Broom in the North to Mackay in Queensland
Green Tree Ants are in fact known outside Australia as Weaver Ants, Oecophylla smaragdina. This species occurs across Asia and India in its red form but only in Australia in Green!
Green Tree Ants are widespread and very successful.
These ants can have as many as 50 nests spread throughout many trees. The single queen occupies a central, very well guarded nest location and the rest of the ants are spread out in a series of guard nests, allowing effective defence of the nest.
Mature colonies have no known predators
They use the larvae to spin silk to build their nests.
In a stroke of evolutionary genius, Weaver Ants utilise the larvae to spin silk. This silk is normally produced by the larvae to form cocoons when they pupate but the larvae sacrifice this protection for the colony and as a result Weaver Ants can build amazing structures in the trees where they live!
Living above ground has allowed Weaver Ants to dominate!
Green Tree Ants dont sting.
This combination of bite and spray results in a painful experience. The defence tactic of Weavers is to mob the attackers. The picture shows the damage inflicted on Andrew Stephenson from an encounter with a large nest. Short term agony, long term reminders of the experience!
They bite with sharp jaws and then spray Formic Acid
Weavers are easy to look after.
Our ants in UK are very well adapted to their new surroundings. It can get very cold in Queensland, especially at night, so these ants are capable of tolerating a great range of temperatures and will function down to 10C!
They are quick to settle and appear to tolerate captivity well.