SurnameImage: Red forest ant
Other names: /
Latin name: Formica rufa
size: 5 - 7mm (female workers), 9 - 11mm (queen and drones)
Appearance: black abdomen and head, red waist
Sexual dimorphism: Yes
Nutrition type: Omnivore (omnivor)
food: Carrion, honeydew, insects, arachnids
distribution: Europe, Asia, North America
original origin: unknown
Sleep-wake rhythm: day and night active
habitat: prefers sunny locations at forest edges
natural enemies: Amphibians, green woodpecker, spiders
mating season: May to June
colony size: up to 2 million individuals
social behavior: state-building
Threatened with extinction: No
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.
Interesting facts about the red forest ant
- The red forest ant or Formica rufa describes an ant within the Hymenoptera, which is native to much of central and northern Europe, Asia and North America.
- It lives in coniferous and deciduous forests, which can be overgrown with different tree species.
- On sunny forest edges and glades the red forest ants build branches, spruce needles and other plant material on their large ant hills, which can be populated by up to two million individuals.
- The ant hills serve the animals as a storage reservoir as well as breeding sites. In the widely branched chambers and passages, which continue partly underground, the eggs are laid down and the larvae are protected against predators.
- Below the ant hill, the entire colony survives the cold winter months. The corridors are designed so that no water can penetrate and small damage can be repaired within a short time.
- In search of food, the red forest ants never move fifty meters away from the building. They follow ant trails that are marked with pheromones.
- The red forest ant feeds on caterpillars and other insect larvae, honeydew of various species of louse and various insects, carrion and plant juices. Since many of their food sources are considered forest pests, the red forest ant is considered extremely useful and contributes significantly to the ecological balance of their habitat.
- At the same time it serves birds, spiders, amphibians and snakes as an important food source.
- The workers are between five and seven millimeters long and have short wings and stunted genitalia. The queens are up to eleven millimeters long and are wingless.
- The body of the red forest ant consists of the slender front body and the roundish abdomen with two constricted limbs in between, which allow maximum mobility.
- The abdomen, legs and head appear in a dark tan, the rest of the body is intensely colored red.
- Within the pronounced social fabric of a colony, only the queens are responsible for reproduction and lay eggs continuously from March.
- The males die immediately after mating, the young queens store the seed in the so-called seed bag.
- They either start a new state or invade ant colonies, kill the queen and take over their role.