Tailor Ants, or Weaver Ants, naturally inhabit humid forests, which limits their South African distribution to the northern coast of Kwazulu-Natal (where their unique nests are a common sight in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park). Beyond our borders they’re distributed throughout Africa’s equatorial regions.
A single colony of Tailor Ants usually have several nests within their territory, which they fiercely defend by injecting formic acid when biting assailants, be they other ants, birds or animals and even humans. These nests are constructed using silk produced by the larval ants to bind together living leaves. In one nest the queen, which produces about a hundred eggs per day, lives, while the other nests are used by the workers (which measure up to 11mm in length) to care for the young ants or – fascinatingly! – farm with scale insects. The ants subsist on the honeydew these scale insects secrete as well as on other insects they hunt in the trees or on the ground.