Nest Quest

Join Back from the Brink’s Nest Quest to learn more about the amazing lives of wood ants, and help us better understand how and where they live! This is an easy-to-do survey for when you are out and about in the countryside during your daily exercise, whether you are walking, running or cycling and happen to see a nest.

Wood ant nests are teeming insect cities, a vast bustling family fortress for thousands of inhabitants. They are also factories for processing nutrients, recycling centres, and farms for the germination of seeds, influencing the surrounding habitat.

The ants’ domed pyramids of pine needles, twigs, and leaves are a wonder of the natural world, anything from 20cm to over 2m in diameter and height, and sometimes several decades in age, making them the largest and oldest structures created by insects in Europe. The nests are even home to a specialist community of some 100 other ant nest-dwelling species, and used by up to 1,000 other kinds of invertebrates.

We’re seeking records of wood ant nests from across England, but especially from Devon. Wood ants are declining in range, and by submitting your records to Nest Quest, you can help us to monitor the distribution of this important species.

How to submit a Nest Quest record

Land of heaps and glory

Wood ant nests may be found year round, but are especially active between spring and autumn. Please keep a look out for nests when out walking, especially in woodlands, heaths, and grasslands, plus edges of moors, hedgebanks, paths and verges, and let us know about your discoveries by submitting your sighting records – take a nest selfie if you can.

There’s special interest in:

• Biggest and smallest nests
• Most unusual nest location
• Highest number of nests found in one visit

Found a mound?

It’s easy to take part. On finding a nest,
• Take a photo of your nest, or if you like a nest selfie
• Record the location (the interactive map below will help with this) and the date
• Note down nest size
• Please let us know about other observations (if an unusual location, numbers of nests, any interesting ant behaviour you see)

There’s also a downloadable step by step guide at the link on the right of this page

Submit your findings below – we’ll publish nest records on our Nest Quest map. Please remember not to disturb or damage the nests whilst carrying out this survey.

(c) Roger Key

Want to take part?

Sorry. This form is no longer accepting new submissions.

Explore the map and click on the circles to find out more about the survey submission.

How the wood ant (Formica rufa) defends its nest

A look at air conditioning in wood ant (Formica rufa) nests

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