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Putting Food on the Table


Weaver ants labor to carry a live land snail back to their nest in Gorongosa National Park.

At least 200 species of ants live in Gorongosa National Park, including the African Weaver ant (Oecophylla longinoda). These ants build football-sized nests in trees by weaving leaves together with silk produced by their larvae. The nest contains the queen’s chamber, a nursery for the larvae, and a storehouse for prey. Weaver ants attack snails, grasshoppers, beetles, and even snakes. They have also been used to control agricultural pests such as fruit flies that damage citrus fruits and other crops. Moreover, the ants themselves are an excellent source of protein and fatty acids and are consumed in some societies as a delicacy. Small animals like ants mostly escaped the ravages of the Mozambique civil war.

Image courtesy of Piotr Naskrecki PhD, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA




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