In Scotland, we have two species of Wood Ant, the Hairy wood ant (Formica lugubris) and the Scottish wood ant (Formica aquilonia). They are very difficult to tell apart and it takes someone with a lot of experience to be able to identify which species is which!
Wood ants are incredible insects with their amazing defensive acid spray, architectural prowess and agricultural talents. They are also an essential part of the Woodland ecosystem, performing important jobs such as dispersing seeds, stimulating the roots and shoots of trees, distributing nutrients around the woodland and as a food source for other wildlife such as birds like the Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)and mammals such as Badgers(Meles meles).
A typical wood ant nest looks like a large pile of pine needles sat next to a tree or a tussock of grass and they can be found in coniferous, mixed and broadleaved forests. They love, and need the sun to keep their nest warm so will choose somewhere that isn’t too shaded. Have a careful look at the surface of the nest to make sure there are ants busy working on it and it is an active colony.
If you find a nest please do not disturb the ants by touching the nest or picking up any of the ants. We need your help to conserve these amazing creatures so take photos but don’t touch! Please also bear in mind that they do spray acid when disturbed and this may cause some skin irritation if you get too close.
On with the race…Get Ready, Set, GO!!
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