The Red Wood Ant (Formica rufa) is an insect in the Formicidae family of ants. It is also known as the Southern Wood Ant and Horse Ant.
The Red Wood Ant has a head, thorax, and abdomen. It is reddish, except for its brownish-black abdomen and dark patch on the back of its head. Its 6 legs are reddish-black. Its antennae are long. It has large jaws called mandibles. It has smoky-brown wings during the mating season – only the fertile female and adult male have wings.
It measures up to one centimeter (a third of an inch) in length.
It is native to Europe, the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey), and North America. It prefers coniferous forests, woodlands, grasslands, and parklands. It is most commonly seen in late spring and early summer when it is mating.
It eats honeydew from aphids. The termite eats wood, but the Red Wood Ant does not eat wood.
It is territorial and will remove other ant species from its area.
It forms large colonies of 100,000 to 400,000 individual ants, including about 100 queen ants. The queen ants are the egg-layers.
The life cycle is egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
The Red Wood Ant mates in the air during nuptial flight in springtime. The winged male dies after mating. The fertile female looks for a nesting site on the ground. When she finds a nesting site, her wings drop off. She eats the wings for nourishment.
She builds a nest for her eggs in a mound of grass, twigs, and conifer tree needles, or near rotting trees. She lays about 20 eggs. The worker ants (female ants) look after the eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae (grubs), which undergo metamorphosis (by pupating in a cocoon) to become adult ants.
Location of photographs: Udabno, Georgia
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM