Southern Wood Ant Formica rufa

Southern Wood Ants are commonly found in the Wyre Forest and in sunny places their large nests can be large and conspicuous. There may be up to 400,000 individual ants in one nest, almost all of which are worker ants. Winged males and new queens emerge between April and August and Kevin McGee has sent this excellent photograph of one of the queens he found in Wyre recently.

Formica rufa queen ant, Wimperhill, 5 June 2016 ©Kevin McGee

Wood Ants

Wendy Carter has sent these excellent photographs of Wood Ant (Formica rufa) workers carrying smaller live ants. Although this has been documented before, it is not clear why this behaviour occurs. The ant being carried is not struggling, so presumably it is not objecting to a lift back to the nest!

Wood Ant carrying another, Ribbesford Wood, 10 April 2016 ©Wendy Carter

Wood Ant carrying another live ant, Ribbesford Wood, 11 April 2016 ©Wendy Carter

Wood Ants massing in the spring sunshine

Wood Ants (Formica rufa) spend the winter months in a state of dormancy underground in their nests. Then, in the spring sunshine when the ground temperature is high enough, they can be seen massing together on top of the nest in large numbers as seen here. Their dark colour enables them to absorb the heat of the sun and when they return to the nest their radiated heat can warm the nest.

Wood Ants massing on their nest, 13 April 2016

Wood Ants massing on their nest, 13 April 2016

Wyre Forest’s Wood Ants

The Wood Ants (Formica rufa) that are commonly found in most of Wyre’s woodland have begun to emerge from their winter period of dormancy and when weather conditions are suitable they are out massing on top of their nests – quite a spectacle!

Wood Ants, Ribbesford Wood, 27 March 2015 ©Nicola Winnall

Wood Ants, Ribbesford Wood, 27 March 2015, ©Nicola Winnall