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Thursday, 25 July 2019

red wood ant

Formica rufa, also known as the red wood ant, southern wood ant, or horse ant, is a boreal member of the Formica rufa group of ants, and is the type species for that group. It is native to Europe and Anatolia but is also found in North America, in both coniferous and broad-leaf broken woodland and parkland. Workers are bicolored red and brownish-black, with a dorsal dark patch on the head and promensonotum, and are polymorphic, measuring 4.5–9 mm in length. They have large mandibles and like many other ant species they are able to spray formic acid from their abdomens as a defence. Formic acid was first extracted in 1671 by the English naturalist John Ray by distilling a large number of crushed ants of this species. Nests of these ants are large, conspicuous, dome-shaped mounds of grass, twigs, or conifer needles, often built against a rotting stump, usually situated in woodland clearings where the sun's rays can reach them. Large colonies may have 100,000 to 400,000 workers and 100 queens. The ant's primary diet is aphid honeydew, but they also prey on invertebrates such as insects and arachnids; they are voracious scavengers. Foraging trails may extend 100 m. Larger workers have been observed to forage further away from the nest. F. rufa is commonly used in forestry and is often introduced into an area as a form of pest management.

 

(latin: Formica rufa)

Thursday, 25 July 2019