Formica pratensis (European wood ant)


  • European: IUCN Red List (Vulnerable). Presumed declining.


Commonly known as the European red wood 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 other wood ants species, generally up to 30 cm in height. The thatch is made from grasses and small twigs.


This species became extinct on mainland England by 1988 but is still found on Jersey and Guernsey. It will soon be fully protected on Jersey by the Jersey Wildlife Law 2021.


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. On the Channel Islands it is found on coastal heathlands and has a preference for building its nests along the edges of paths. This can result in the nests being disturbed and damaged by passing walkers.