Wily Feet Formica Ant

Photo by: Bryan Reynolds


Over one year, a single colony of wood ants may consume how many insects?

Over 10 million insects

Formica sp.

Formica ant workers can be from 4mm to 8mm in length and some are weakly polymorphic, being red or black. The alates, ants with wings, are larger, being 5mm to 13mm. The queen is typically 12-15mm, she is dark red and black, and mostly polygyn (multiple queens per colony). The workers have conspicuous ocelli, double row of bristles on flexor (ventral) surface of middle and hind tibiae, mesosoma with “bumpy” (stair-stepped) profile, dorsal surface of propodeal profile as long or longer than the posterior, declivitous face. They can make their homes in the northern hemisphere, from warm temperate to subarctic zones, and can be found across southern Britain, North to Mid Europe, Pyrenees and Siberia

Formica ant can be known as wood, forest, field, or mound ants depending on the habitat and nesting preferences for the various species with there being over 200 different species. Open woodlands, forests, and grasslands are a favorite. Nests can be built in rotten wood or soil and can be elevated as a mound made from earth and pieces of plant, such as pine needles. Ant nests can reach a few meters high. These ants are active from spring till frost and mating occurs in late June through early August.

Formica ants will attack and kill arthropods, sometimes earthworms, and often seek honeydew and extrafloral nectar, often foraging high in trees to gather these sweets. Worker ants can forage up to 50 meters away from their nest.

Written by: Christian Newkirk, an undergraduate Environmental Science student at the University of Oklahoma