Formica pratensis (European wood ant)

Status

  • European: IUCN Red List (vulnerable). Presumed declining.
  • UK: BAP priority species. On English Biodiversity List. Presumed extinct in 2005.

Description

Commonly known as the European red wood ant or black-backed meadow ant. It is similar in appearence to its relative, the southern wood ant (Formica rufa) but generally darker than the other wood ants. The nests of Formica pratensis tend to be small in comparison to the other wood ants and contain grasses and small twigs.

Distribution

Presumed extinct on mainland Britain by 2005. It is still found in Jersey and Guernsey, but not in the other Channel Islands. In Guernsey it is common on the cliffs, and is occasionally found inland on banks. In Jersey it occurs on sand dunes as well.

Habitat

This is one of the group of heat loving `wood ants` (e.g. F. exsecta) that require management of early successional growth to ensure high levels of insolation reach the nest. F. pratensis lives in open areas, or scrubby and heathy ones. The nests are build comparatively flat and thatched with small twigs.