Formica aquilonia (Scottish wood ant)

Formica aquilonia


  • European: IUCN Red List (lower risk/near threatened)
  • UK: Listed as Scarce but populations are believed to be stable or increasing.


Often confused with F. lugubris but the fringe of hairs at the rear of the head does not extend down to the compound eyes. Long hairs if present on the mesopleuron, are confined to lower areas.


In Europe this ant is found from the Alps to Siberia and from northern Italy to Arctic Norway. Within the UK it is only found in Scotland and Armagh, Northern Ireland. In Scotland has been recorded as far north as Ross and Sutherland. Its distribution extends west and south of this into the west Highlands and Argyll. Skye and Arran are the only Scottish islands with records.


The Scottish wood ant has similar habitat needs to Formica lugubris but it can tolerate shade much better than Formica lugubris and hence can be found in denser woodland stands. In large expanses of continuous forest, Formica aquilonia can be found within and throughout the forest while Formica lugubris prefers open glades and the woodland edge.