Physiological properties of the visual system in the Green Weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina

Yuri Ogawa, Lochlan Jones, Laura A. Ryan, Simon K.A. Robson, Nathan S. Hart, Ajay Narendra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


The Green Weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina are iconic animals known for their extreme cooperative behaviour where they bridge gaps by linking to each other to build living chains. They are visually oriented animals, build chains towards closer targets, use celestial compass cues for navigation and are visual predators. Here, we describe their visual sensory capacity. The major workers of O. smaragdina have more ommatidia (804) in each eye compared to minor workers (508), but the facet diameters are comparable between both castes. We measured the impulse responses of the compound eye and found their response duration (42 ms) was similar to that seen in other slow-moving ants. We determined the flicker fusion frequency of the compound eye at the brightest light intensity to be 132 Hz, which is relatively fast for a walking insect suggesting the visual system is well suited for a diurnal lifestyle. Using pattern-electroretinography we identified the compound eye has a spatial resolving power of 0.5 cycles deg−1 and reached peak contrast sensitivity of 2.9 (35% Michelson contrast threshold) at 0.05 cycles deg−1. We discuss the relationship of spatial resolution and contrast sensitivity, with number of ommatidia and size of the lens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-498
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Compound eye
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Spatial acuity
  • Spatial resolving power
  • Vision


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