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Nest Quest

We need your wood ant nest records. Buglife is collecting records in order to map Britain’s wood ant nest locations. If you spot a nest, stick your dot on the map and help us build up a picture of the UK-wide distribution.

 

Wood ant © Gabor Pozsgai

In the UK we have four species of true wood ants: European wood ants (Formica pratensis), Southern wood ants (Formica rufa), Scottish wood ants (Formica aquilonia) and Hairy wood ants (Formica lugubris).

 

Wood ants are incredible insects that build nests that can harvest the warmth of the sun and which they defend with acid spray. They farm aphids for their honeydew, defending their stock from predator, herding them and even using them as a ‘meat’ resource. Wood ants are an integral part of woodland ecosystems as predators of invertebrate prey, performing important jobs such as dispersing seeds, distributing nutrients around the woodland and as a food source for other wildlife such as birds mammals.

 

Finding wood ant nests

 

A typical wood ant nest looks like a dome-like mound of various materials including pine needles, grasses, twigs or mosses. They are usually positioned next to a tree or a tussock of grass and can be found in coniferous, mixed and broadleaved forests. They need the sun to keep their nest warm so will choose somewhere that isn’t too shaded. Before recording it, have a careful look at the surface of the nest to make sure there are ants busy working to confirm it is an active nest. Remember tor write down the location and grid reference of your nest.

Wood ant nests © Jenni Stockan

Wood ant nest © Jenni Stockan

Submit your wood ant data here.

Resources

To find out more about wood ants, you can go UK Wood Ant Steering Group website

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