Feeling Green? So is This Ant

Avid readers will remember our article “Feeling Blue? So is This Ant“, in which we featured a beautiful blue ant. Today, we add another ant to our color wheel:

GreenAnt
Green ant queen! Photo: Pronoy Baidya

This queen is not green with envy, but green with being Oecophylla smaragdina, a widespread species of weaver ant. Why is it green? Who knows!

6 thoughts on “Feeling Green? So is This Ant

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  1. Hi Ben, it is interesting that Oecophylla queens are green while their workers are red. I wonder if the queens could be green as a form of camouflage to avoid predation (presumably by birds) during the vulnerable colony founding stage. Since freshly mated queens weave (green) leaves together to construct a refuge, perhaps the green may help them to blend in? Thanks for this post – I wouldn’t have developed this hypothesis otherwise! We have plenty of Oecophylla in Singapore.

    – Mark

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mark! Thanks for stopping by.

      Yeah, I think that camouflage hypothesis is likely. In fact, some workers actually are (partially) green as well – see here! There is some variation in coloration among both queens and workers (e.g., I recently collected a de-alate queen that only had a markedly green gaster, and then the following day, a colleague collected one that was pretty much completely green!). This only makes me more curious as to the function of the coloration! My working hypothesis would be that there is divergent selection underway: the bright orange serves as a warning signal associated with the famously aggressive, biting behavior of weaver ant colonies, while the green confers a camouflage defense. Of course, what would be super cool is if green is selected for in the queen (she has to hide before she has workers to defend her!) while the orange is selected for in the workers. This might mean that the genes coding for both green and orange are maintained in weaver ants populations!

      Thanks for the question, this got me thinking!

      Like

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