Like their name suggests, wood ants inhabit the woodlands. They rely on dead leaves to build their nests. These ants are at times confused with the wood destroying carpenter ants. These though are two different species. We give various wood ants facts to help in distinguishing them.
Wood Ants, Wood Eating Ants or Wood Destroying Ants or Boring
The wood ant is a local ant in the UK. It predominantly occurs in Wales and Southern England. The ant can also be found in various other places around the world. The ant is slowly going extinct with its range diminishing with the passing of time. The reasons for their decline are not known but it is suspected that the decline in woodland habitat could be the cause. Disturbance by animal and human beings could also be a contributing factor.
This ant inhabits open woods. It will find a home in both soft and hard woods, moor land as well as in dense pine forests. The ants can eject formic acid from their abdomens into a victim whenever they feel threatened. The males are only meant to mate with the queen soon after whom they die.
Wood ants construct large mound nests. These are mostly in isolated areas and thatched. A single colony is made up of up to 250, 000 worker ants. These aggressively protect their territory, tend to the brood and forage for food.
The ants are omnivorous. They can feed on a wide variety of prey. This is mostly brought back to the nest by the workers so that the queen and young ones can be fed. These ants also love to eat honey dew. They therefore tend to and protect the aphids. They can climb up 30 meters tall trees to obtain the honey dew.
At the onset of spring, the queen produces a lot of eggs. The unfertilized ones hatch and develop into males. The fertilized eggs hatch into females. Sterile females become worker ants while the fertile females are fed to become egg laying queens later. The reproductive males and females initially have wings. At some point they fly out of the nest to mate. Soon after they lose their wings, the female becomes queen and the males die.
Wood ants are not to be confused with wood destroying ants. These boring ants are also at times wrongly referred to as wood eating ants despite the fact that they do not eat it. Also referred to as carpenter ants, they only bore holes into decayed wood for the purposes of building their nests. They can cause extensive damage to structures if the nests remain active over a long time.
Wood Ants Facts
Wood ants are interesting creatures. Below are some of the interesting wood ants’ facts.
- A healthy forest within the ants’ range will have approximately 500 wood ants per square meter.
- The worker ants have a lifespan of 60days while the males only live for a few weeks. The queens can however live for up to 15 or more years.
- The queens sleep the longest which is up to nine hours while the worker ants make do with power naps.
- The ants are right footed.
- When it is autumn, the nest generates a lot of heat which could be enough to melt some light snow.
- It is not only the wood ants that live in the nests they construct. Other insects make these nests their home. Some of the nest dwellers will not be found in any other place.
- The ants are known to sun bathe during hot days. They absorb enough heat which they later transfer into the nest where the brood are.
- They incorporate pine resin into their nests. Since it contains antibacterial properties, the ants are protected from fungi and bacteria.
- Their nests have thatch that makes them water proof.
- Wood ants have great memories and can remember the routes to their sources of food even after hibernating for six months.
- They use smell and sight to move and navigate around their habitat.
- The ants have the ability to spray formic acid to victims who are 12 times their length away.
Wood Ants Pictures
To appropriately distinguish them from other ants, it is important to look at images of wood ants. They will clearly show their distinctive features which. These are necessary for one to know if they are to correctly identify the ant.
Red Wood Ants
The red wood ants are red in color and hence the reason for their name. They also live in wood habitats. These ants are also referred to as the true wood ants. With time though, the ants have produced hybrid offspring with other ants whom they share some characteristics. This has made it hard to study them.
Black Wood Ants
In most cases, wood ants are red with some parts being brown or black. Although there might appear like there are some that are completely black, these are not true wood ants. This is despite the fact that they may share certain characteristics such as nest building.
Wood Ants with Wings
The wood ants with wings represent the reproductive population of the colony. Reproductive females will possess wings just as the males. When it is time to mate, they will fly out of the nest. Once they have mated, they will lose their wings. The males will soon die while the female becomes queen. She could start her own colony or join an existing one. She will then spend the rest of her life laying eggs and being catered for by the worker ants.
Wood Ants in House
Wood ants mostly dwell in the woods. It is therefore very rare to see them venturing into living areas. The ants can also be seen living in open grassland. These are the most appropriate places for them as they provide enough dead wood for nest building. They also ensure that their mounds are well built to protect them from harsh weather and predators. These are also comfortable for the ants to incubate their eggs.
How to Get Rid of Wood Ants and How to Kill Wood Ants
Although these ants are well distributed in North America, Europe and Asia, they are facing extinction in some areas. This is despite their very important role in the woodland ecosystem. In some countries, there are efforts to conserve them. It is therefore important that before one thinks of how to kill them or ways of getting rid of them, they contact the relevant authorities.
Wood Ants Treatment
Just like any other ants, wood ants can be eliminated. However, before engaging in any activity that will lead to their extermination, it is important to find out if one is in an area where these ants are endangered. If it is okay to treat them, one can make use of natural baits or any other pesticides that will not be of any harm to the environment in which they inhabit. Follow the instructions to the letter for a successful treatment.