Formica rufa (southern wood ant)


  • European: IUCN Red List (lower risk/near threatened)
  • UK: Local.


Formica rufa is commonly known as the southern wood or horse ant. It is a large ant with workers reaching 10mm in length and queens 12mm in length. The lack of a fringe of hairs on the eyes and around the margin of the head (when viewed head on) distinguishes the southern wood from similar wood ants.


It is widespread but localised throughout England and Wales, being found as far north as Cumbria and Northumberland but the core population is in the south and south-east of England. It is not found in Ireland, Northern Ireland or Scotland.


Although a woodland ant, the southern wood ant is a sun-loving species and prefers to excavated nests in open glades, rides and along woodland edges. Although not entirely restricted to coniferous forest, few nests of this species are found in broadleaved woodland.