Black weaver ants: call for sightings

Do you have black weaver ants on your property? If so, there is an entomologist eager to hear from you. Dr Mike Downes, who wrote this (first ever!) guest post for Green Path, has been studying them since 2009 and would like to hear from anyone who has these ants nesting in vegetation on their property. Here’s what he has to say about them:

Like green tree ants, black weaver ants, Polyrhachis australis, use silk from their larvae to bind leaves together forming a nest, most often in trees and shrubs but sometimes in artificial locations such as buckets or gaps in wall cladding. There are some excellent images on the internet of black weaver ants and their nests, including several on the Flickr photostream of Green Path’s author, Malcolm Tattersall. Here’s an example:

black weaver ants
Black weaver ants and their nest

The worker ants are shiny jet black, about half a centimetre long or longer, and forage singly. They only march in trails when relocating their nest. The nests range from about the size of a golf ball to as large as a pawpaw. The majority of nests have pale grey to charcoal-coloured, gritty walls constructed of plant and mineral debris bound together with silk. Occasionally, however, the nests are creamy-white and floppy, without much debris. In those cases, the ants are using an excess of spider silk instead of their own larval silk.

Disturbing the nest will usually result in a defensive outpouring of workers, but their bites are mild at most, barely noticeable compared with those of green ants. Also in contrast with green ants which have a single ‘royal’ nest and many outposts, black weaver ants have one or more queens in every nest, and lots of males too, especially between September and December.

Contact Mike on 47245616, mobile 0428194700,
email mikedownes@bigpond.com

2 thoughts on “Black weaver ants: call for sightings”

  1. Hi Malcolm,
    As you can see I found the post you mentioned this morning when Mike found more of these ants. Nice to see your fine photos on Flickr, many thanks :)
    Julia

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