Watch these incredible green ants build a leaf castle

Green ants
Screen capture Smithsonian

A remarkable video shows how Australian green ants weave together leaves to create a home for their queen.

Like an insect version of a barn raising, green ants (also called weaver ants) work together with incredible cooperation to pull leaves together and stitch them into place to create nests high in the trees. Linking their tiny bodies together to form chains from one leaf to another, their efforts are nothing short of Herculean! The little cuties.

Green ant nestMKar/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
As described by English naturalist Joseph Banks during Captain James Cook's voyage to Australia in 1768:

The green as a leaf, and living upon trees, where it built a nest, in size between that of a man's head and his fist, by bending the leaves together, and gluing them with whitish paperish substances which held them firmly together. In doing this their management was most curious: they bend down four leaves broader than a man's hand, and place them in such a direction as they choose. This requires a much larger force than these animals seem capable of; many thousands indeed are employed in the joint work. I have seen as many as could stand by one another, holding down such a leaf, each drawing down with all his might, while others within were employed to fasten the glue. How they had bent it down I had not the opportunity of seeing, but it was held down by main strength, I easily proved by disturbing a part of them, on which the leaf bursting from the rest, returned to its natural situation, and I had an opportunity of trying with my finger the strength of these little animals must have used to get it down.

Equally remarkable is the source of the silk they use to sew the whole shebang together. Watch this video produced by Smithsonian and let Sir David Attenborough reveal the wonder:

Tags: Insects


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