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A Northern Hairy Wood Ant with prey
© Photo : Philip Precey

Wood Ant

Formica rufa
© Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Key Facts

  • Length: varies by species between 2.8mm and 9mm

Wood Ants are aggressive predators, equipped with large, biting jaws and the ability to spray formic acid in defence. They feed on a wide variety of invertebrates, which the workers collect from the area surrounding their colony. Wood Ants build large nests out of soil, twigs, leaves and pine needles. They can be found in heathland, moorland and woodland throughout Britain.

How to Identify

Wood Ants are large ants with an orange and black body. There are several species of wood ants in the UK which can be very difficult to tell apart.

Where to Find


How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species, so manage many nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. But these precious sites are under threat from development, intensive agricultural practices and climate change. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you’ll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Did you know?

Wood Ant colonies can sometimes number up to half a million individuals. As with other ant species, the colony is made up of non-reproducing female workers, a queen (or queens) that produces eggs and males that mate with the queen. In spring, a generation of sexual males and females is raised, which take to the air to mate. Fertilised females then shed their wings and disperse to form new colonies.

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