Sampling Ant Larvae and Miniature Bananas in Siem Reap

By Susan Hack - 2013-04-16T12:52:24Z

Photograph by Susan Hack

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Ants Nest

Speaking of insects, Cambodians are very fond of eating weaver ants, so named because they make nests by "weaving" leaves together on trees.To make their nest, teams of adult ants hold leaves together, while more ants hold larvae in their pincers until the larvae exude a sticky, silk thread that serves as a glue.

Cambodians carefully collect the ants by knocking a nest to the ground using a long stick, or shaking a tree so ants and larvae fall into a basket. The small ants (about a third of an inch long) live in the vegetation all around the Angkor temple complex; they bite when disturbed, spraying a stinging acid that acts like a signal for other ants to join in. Every now and then you'll notice tourists doing the weaver ant dance, stamping and slapping themselves while shouting "Shit! Shit!" in their mother tongues.