Created 16-Apr-14
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Weaver ants as food and medicine

Weaver ants are one of the most valued types of insects eaten by humans (entomophagy). In addition to being used as a biological control agent to increase plant production, weaver ants can be utilized directly as a protein and food source since the ants (especially the ant larvae) are edible and high in protein and fatty acids.

In some countries the weaver ant is a highly priced delicacy harvested in vast amounts and in this way contributing to local socioeconomics. In Northeastern Thailand the price of weaver ant larvae is twice the price of good quality beef and in a single Thai province ant larvae worth 620.000 USD are harvested every year.

It has furthermore been shown that the harvest of weaver ants can be maintained while at the same time using the ants for biocontrol of pest insects in tropical plantations, since the queen larvae and pupae that are the primary target of harvest, are not vital for colony survival.

It follows that weaver ants convert damaging pest insects into valuable weaver ant biomass that can be utilized as a food source. The ants may in this way provide double benefits to agriculture. The larvae of weaver ants are also collected commercially as an expensive feed for insect eating birds in Indonesia and the worker ants are used in traditional medicine in e.g. India and China.

WEAVER ANTS

Oecophylla smaragdina

Weaver ants - Video

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