Red wood ants are dark brown to light yellow in color, but it varies according to their gender. Moreover, it is dark brown to reddish in males, light yellow to bright yellow in queens, and dark brown to black in workers.
What is a Red Wood Ant? Red wood ants are common in the forests of Europe, Asia, and Anatolia. Its scientific name is Formica rufa, and common names are Southern Wood Ant, Horse Ant, Mound Ant, and True Wood Ant. Moreover, they have sharp mandibles providing a firm grip and wings that help in flying, and queens shed their wings after mating. They eat invertebrates, including caterpillars, beetles, and mites. The lifespan of their queens is 9-10 years, and workers live for 1 to 3.5 years. Furthermore, these insects are aggressive and release formic acid from the stomach to defend themselves.
They communicate by sending certain chemicals to other members.
Furthermore, these play a key role in maintaining the ecosystem of the forests because of their predator-prey relationship with other insects.
The young females stay in the nest and feed the larvae and protect them. The number of members in a colony varies from 90,000 to 410,000, while they have almost 130 to 180 queens.
Where are red wood ants found?
These ants are present in the forests of Northern Europe, but a small population also exists in the southern area.
Moreover, they are spread widely in the boreal and temperate forests of the northern hemisphere. These are also found in Anatolia forests on both coniferous and broad leaf trees.
Furthermore, these are also present in the forests of Hungary and Poland in Central Europe.
According to our research, these are present most abundantly in Germany, Finland, Switzerland, and some Asian countries.
Do red wood ants have wings?
Wings allow ants to fly and are commonly present in male and female reproductive ants. They help them to fly and get involved in a nuptial flight.
Accordingly, they allow them to mate higher in the air and return to the ground to raise a new progeny.
Moreover, they have wings like other ant species and usually shed them off their bodies after mating to get nutrition.
In addition to wings, they have slightly curved antennae that help detect smell and chemicals to reach a particular location.
What does a red wood ant look like?
There is a difference in the size of male, worker, and queen ants. Queens are larger, and the female worker red wood ants are the smallest.
Additionally, males have large eyes but have a small body and straight antennae. They have strong mandibles and six legs that help to grip things easily and climb the trees.
These are dark brown, but the head color is black. Their color varies from light yellow to bright yellow in different parts of the world.
Furthermore, these are the largest ants having abundant hair on their legs and thin hair around tiny eyes. These prefer to live and form a mound in a sunny area.
Their body weight is around 8 to 10 mg, and they fly at a speed of 46 to 48mph. In addition, male ants are 2 to 5mm in length, while the queens are about 6-10mm long.
What do red wood ants eat?
The insects need food to get instant energy for performing the tasks of nests. Therefore, they feel energetic after consuming sweet food items like honey.
They prefer to eat other small or large insects, including spiders, mites, hoverflies, and even ants of other species.
Moreover, they maintain a symbiotic relationship with aphids to extract honeydew by striking antennae on their back.
Also, they protect aphids and avoid the risk of predator attacks like invertebrates, including caterpillars and beetles.
How long do red wood ants live?
A red wood ant colony can survive for a longer duration as their queens can live for almost 9 to 10 years and keep replacing the dying members with new larvae.
It takes almost 4-7 weeks to convert an egg into an adult ant. However, the worker ants have a shorter lifespan and can survive for almost 1 to 3.5 years.
According to the research held in the black forests of Freiberg, the size of the nest increased with the time that had reached its maximum number after 2.5 to 6 years.
Some factors like animal attacks, heavy storms, and weather fluctuations are responsible for the disruption of their colony.
Can red wood ants bite?
Redwood ants can bite any predator or human intruder when they try to interfere with their nest. This is because they are aggressive and release formic acid from their stomach whenever a predator attacks.
These usually spray formic acid on their skin resulting in a painful sensation. It is the defense mechanism in them that gives off a citric smell due to formic acid.
Moreover, they are not harmful to human beings or any other animals and insects unless someone attacks them.
Furthermore, their bite looks like a pimple causing swelling in the affected area, but they are not poisonous to form pus-filled blisters.
What are the other names of red wood ants?
All organisms have different names in different regions of the world according to their language.
Most probably, you have heard about the southern and mountain wood ant, which are other names of these insects.
In addition, horse ant is also a common name for the red wood ants. However, Formica rufa is the scientific name of these insects, which helps reduce confusion among people but is widely known in the research community.
Their scientific name is Formica polyctena which is included in the same family.
These are also known as true wood ants, thatch, or mound ants, which is the name given according to their place.
What is the size of the red wood ant mound?
They make mounds, also known as anthills, that are present in the open spaces of the forests, where there is more space for colonies to increase the size of their territory.
Moreover, the height of mounds is almost 2.5 meters, and it goes down under the surface.
They make their nest by collecting needle-like leaves, small twigs, and grass mounds on the coniferous trees.
Moreover, they are famous due to organized teamwork in which different nest members participate to do particular tasks.