Formica rufibarbis (Red-barbed ant)


  • European: Not threatened.
  • UK: UKBAP Priority Species (plus has own Species Action Plan), GB Red List category 1 Endangered.


Formica rufibarbis is very similar in appearance to the wood ants, having the distinctive red colouring of the thorax and legs with a dark head and abdomen. The common name for the ant comes from the red dorsal hairs on the pronotum (thorax).


On mainland Britain the red-barbed ant is only found on Chobham Common (a National Nature Reserve) and Bisley Ranges (A Site of Special Scientific Interest). Both are lowland heath type habitat. Another population also exists on maritime heath on St Martin’s, the Isles of Scilly.


The red-barbed ant requires successional heathland habitat and being one of the most thermophilic of the Formica ants it needs dry, sun exposed habitat for nesting and foraging. Suitable habitat involves bare ground, short grass and heather mosaics over loose or sandy soils within maritime heath and grassland. Nests are either excavated in the ground or under stones.