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All Sewn Up in Silk

Taken in Sept 2010 at my farm in Nellore Dist.

Weaver ants bending leaf

Weaver ants are reddish ants that are champions of cooperation when it comes to building elaborate nests on treetops.The nest starts very simply. A group of worker ants finds a leaf that is soft and easy to bend. Several ants line up. Each holds an edge of a leaf in its mandibles and feet. Slowly, the ants pull the two leaf edges together.  They link their feet and pull until the two leaf edges are nearly touching.Worker ants carry newly hatched larvae from the old nest and gently squeeze them between their mandibles causing them to ooze a thin thread of silk with which they stitch the leaves together.

Weaver ant pupae are harvested and sold as food in markets in Thailand and the Philippines. They are said to have a creamy flavor. People also eat adult weaver ants. Their taste is described as lemony or creamy and sour. The Dayaks in Borneo mix adult ants with rice for extra texture and flavor. Weaver ants are fierce biters, so people who harvest them have to be extra careful! For the past 2,000 years, the Chinese have made use of the voracious appetite of weaver ants for other insects. They use them to control insect pests in their citrus orchards. The ants have a strong chemical in their bodies called formic acid. Crushed ants are used to fight infections. 

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© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved

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Rajesh said...

Great work, engineering marvel.

magiceye said...

wow this is indeed amazing
thanks for sharing

Shri Ram Ayyangar said...

I have seen such nests by red ants and difficult to dismantle!

Purba said...

It looks so cosy.

Sneo said...

thought your post had to do with a designer tailor :P
i guess its much better

Lakshmi Rajan said...

Not just tailors but marvelous engineers!

I wonder how people could eat ants etc...eew :S

Team G Square said...

Ants are great source of vital vitamins and minerals . Considered to be very good to eyes . Even some tribes, especially the Tribes of Chattisgarh make special red ant chutney . Though have never tasted the chutneys

Nethra said...

They are aesthetic.

Arpana said...

Ants are goods at everything they do.

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Basanti said...

So very interesting. :)