Chin’s Nature Corner

Weaver Ants
Some other insects
(besides butterflies, moths,
dragonflies and damselflies)

MALAYSIA, being a tropical country, has a very rich insect fauna. It is a paradise for those who want to study the many facets of these six-legged creatures, such as their often interesting life cycle, and phenomena like mimicry. Insects can be found in or outside the house all year round. In fact, the picture of the two Weaver Ants you see here engaging in trophallaxis was taken right in the front yard of my sister's house in Bruas, Perak. The picture of the Crazy Ants below was taken right in front of my house in suburban Kuala Lumpur at a time when we had a stand of bamboo. We had to remove the bamboos when they fell over during a rain storm. So, here are some of the many insects that I have photographed, ranging from the common species that one can find right in the house compound to uncommon ones, like the Stalk-eyed Fly (see below), that inhabit the Malaysian rainforest.

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis longipes) ~ Many years ago (1994), I noticed some ants kissing. They were the Crazy Ants, and I took pictures of them doing it. Some time after that I learned that ant species, like the Weaver Ant (see above), and other social insects also have this habit. When they are "kissing" these insects are in fact engaging in trophallaxis, the exchange of alimentary liquids between members of a colony.
Weaver Ant

Weaver Ant or Kerengga (Oecophylla smaragdina) ~ Usually Weaver Ants emerge in angry hordes to defend their colony when their nest, built by stitching green leaves together, is disturbed, and their bite is excruciatingly paintful. This species is the model for the ant-mimicking spider, the Kerengga Ant-like Jumper. In this photo, I have "zoomed in" on single ant in order to show how closely the spider resembles it.
Stalk-eyed Fly

Stalk-eyed Fly (Family Diopsidae) ~ This peculiar insect of the tropical rainforest is about the size of a common housefly, but more slender. In its natural habitat in damp undergrowth near streams, it's hard to see this insect as its dark brown colour is very close to that of the leaf litter on which it usually settlles. Some species are pests which attack crops like maize (corn) and other grain crops.
Nasute Termite

Nasute Termite (Family Termitidae) ~ With a head shaped like a nozzle, the nasute termite soldier is especially equipped to spray a sticky, noxious liquid to "gum up" and immobilise its enemies, usually ants. Nasute termite soldiers stand quard on both sides of a column of termite workers carrying bits of lichens or other vegetation back to their nest to grow fungus as food.
Spider-hunting wasp

The wasp that bit off a spider's legs ~ There was movement on a leaf. It was a wasp struggling with a spider. I moved in closer and got some shots of this brief drama before the wasp flew away, carrying its victim with it. Examining my colour slides later, I discovered that the wasp had bitten off all the spider's legs. Some wasps paralyse and immobilise spiders which they use as a "living larder" to feed their larvae.
Praying mantis

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) ~ The praying mantis is a fast eater. When I first spotted this young specimen in a garden, it had just caught a grasshopper about half its size. By the time I got my camera from the house and attached a flash unit to it (in less than five minutes), it had tucked away most of its prey. What was left was a small portion of the grasshopper's leg.
Praying mantis

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) ~ Praying mantises are untidy eaters, perhaps because they eat very fast. Bits and pieces of the meal fall off as they chomped up their prey. The mantises do not eat the fallen-off fragments or crumbs. I photographed this specimen which was only slightly more than 2cm (less than one inch) in length in a recreation forest close to Kuala Lumpur.
Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) ~ Can you make out the praying mantis in this photo? This praying mantis is well camouflaged as it waits in ambush for prey to get near it. Then its forelegs, equipped with many sharp spurs, will strike out and grab the prey. Its light green colour blends in effectively with this small bunch of flowers. It would be difficult to be seen by any insect that visits these flowers for nectar.
Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) ~ This praying mantis also relies on camouflage to catch its prey. Its "colour scheme" is similar to that of the stalk of flower buds. However, because I used flash to take this photo, it "sticks out like a sore thumb" from the dark background of this photo. In nature, among the green vegetation, it would be quite difficult to see.
Praying mantis nymphs

Praying Mantis Nymphs ~ "Baby" praying mantises, or nymphs, look like tiny replicas of the adults from the day they hatch out from their eggs. Unlike some other insects which undergo complete metamorphosis, they do not go through the larval or pupal stages. Initially, the nymphs do not have wings but these will develop as they grow and turn into adults.

This page revised on 11 September 2019. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin.