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Green Ant

Green Ants carrying a larval insect along a branch

Workers carrying a larvae

Green Ant nest made of leaves and sewn together with silk

Nest

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Scientific Name: Oecophylla smaragdina

Size: Total Length (adult workers) 8-12 mm

What does it look like?

The Green Ant (or Green Tree Ant) is mostly orange with bright green abdomen (gaster). The colony has a single queen, which is larger than all workers (up to 25mm) and greenish-brown, and the major workers larger than minor workers, and with larger heads and jaws.

Where is it found?

Found throughout tropical northern Australia from the western Kimberley, through northern NT to central eastern Qld. Also in southeast Asia.

What are its habitats & habits?

The Green Ant, or Green Tree Ant, occurs in open forests and woodlands, where it forms nests in trees by rolling leaves together and connecting them with silk produced by larvae. Larvae carried by adults and squeezed gently in their jaws to secrete and glue the silk to the leaves. Same colony can have several nests in adjacent trees. Feeds on the honeydew produced by scale insects, which are farmed by minor workers in the trees and protected from predators by the major workers.

Interesting facts

Aggressive when disturbed, biting with powerful jaws and spraying formic acid from abdomen.

Green Ants (known as gulguk by the Larrakia people of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory) are famed as a bush food. The larvae provide an essential source of protein. The adults and larvae are also used as a remedy for colds, headaches and sore throats. They are typically mashed up and mixed with water to make a lemony/lime-flavoured drink. 

Need a guest speaker for Peter Rowland Photographer and Writer
Cover of the book, A Naturalist's Guide to the Insects of Australia

This species features in my book A Naturalist’s Guide to the Insects of Australia

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