Friday 17 May
Hairy wood ant (Formica lugubris)
Hairy wood ant fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Hairy wood ant description
The hairy wood ant (Formica lugubris) can be distinguished from the other wood ants by the possession of a fringe of hairs that reaches down to the eyes (4). It is also more northern in its UK distribution (5). The wood ants are the largest of the British ants, all of which are reddish in colour and have a single segment forming the 'waist' (4). Reproductive females (queens) and males are larger than the workers, and have well-developed thoraxes and wings (which separate from the body after mating). Males have obvious sex organs that protrude from the abdomen (4).Top
Hairy wood ant biology
Wood ants are carnivorous, and workers carry a wide variety of prey back to the nest along well-defined trails that extend throughout the territory (4). Food taken to the nest is destined for the brood, the workers suck sugary sap from plants and also tend aphids for the sugary 'honey dew', which they exude from the anus (4).
All wood ant nests are constructed in a way that maximises the amount of sunlight falling onto the mound. Due to the heat produced by the workers and the thatching (which helps to conserve heat) the nests are warmer than the surrounding soil (4). At the beginning of spring each year, special eggs are produced; unfertilised eggs develop into males and the eggs that become queens are fed more than those that are destined to become workers. During June, usually on a warm humid day, huge numbers of winged reproductive males and females leave the nest and engage in a mating flight. After mating the male soon dies, the queen sheds her wings, and a new colony is established (4). Occasionally the queen may 'take-over' a southern wood ant (Formica rufa) colony, by killing the resident queen and slowly building up a colony of F. lugubris while the host workers die (4).Top
Hairy wood ant range
In the UK, the hairy wood ant has a range that reaches from the Scottish Highlands, and upland parts of the north of England to mid-Wales (3). Elsewhere it is known from the northern Palaearctic region and mountainous parts of central and southern Europe and Asia (3).Top
Hairy wood ant habitatTop
Hairy wood ant statusTop
Hairy wood ant threats
The hairy wood ant has been affected by habitat loss caused by urban and industrial development, agricultural intensification and forestry (3). In remaining woodlands, a move away from traditional management practices, and new stocking regimes have often caused scrub invasion which results in a decrease in the sunny rides or clearings favoured by this ant (3).Top
Hairy wood ant conservation
A Species Action Plan has been produced to guide the conservation of the hairy wood ant in the UK under the auspices of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. This plan aims to maintain the current range of the hairy wood ant (3). Some populations occur within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and National Nature Reserves (NNRs) (3).Top
Information authenticated by Bryan Pinchen (independent ecologist).Top
- In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree. In crustacea (e.g. crabs) the limbs attach to the abdomen; in insects the limbs are attached to the thorax (the part of the body nearest to the head) and not the abdomen. In vertebrates the abdomen is the part of the body that contains the internal organs (except the heart and lungs).
- Feeding on flesh.
- Palaearctic region
- The region that includes Europe, the part of Asia to the north of the Himalyan-Tibetan barrier, North Africa and most of Arabia.
- The footpaths and access tracks which run through and divide blocks of trees in woodland. Many rides contain a mixture of rich flora and structure, and provide different habitat conditions for a range of wildlife.
- Part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs.
IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
- Skinner, G. (1987) Ants of the British Isles. Shire Natural History, Shire Publications Ltd, Aylesbury.
UK Biodiversity. Species Action Plan (Jan 2002):
- Skinner, G. (1998) British wood-ants. British Wildlife, 10 (1): 1-8.
- Pinchen, B.J.P. (2003). Pers. Comm.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.