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Wood Ants

Wood Ants

Genus: Formica

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Invertebrate

Description

Wood ants, also called mound ants or field ants (and not to be confused with carpenter ants), are known for their interesting nest structures built in fields and open woodlands. Not all members of the genus assemble large aboveground nests, but those that do are fantastic builders. A colony of these tiny invertebrates can produce a dome-shaped nest that can reach nearly 10 feet in diameter and 4.5 feet in height. Nests are thatched with twigs, stems, grass blades, and conifer needles. The resulting formations soak up sunlight and keep the ants warm.

Range

Various species of wood ants are probably found throughout the United States. However, little is known about each species and their conservation status.

Diet

Many of these ants protect insects called aphids, because aphids produce honeydew, a sticky liquid that the ants like to eat. For the most part, though, wood ants are predators of defoliating insects, so they’re considered to be beneficial to their ecosystems.

Fun Fact

Wood ants can be quite sneaky. Some colonies raid the nests of other wood ant species and take away their young. The stolen ants are raised as workers in the robbers’ colonies and never know the difference.

Sources

Ecology, The Ecological Society of America

Klotz, J. H. (2008). Urban ants of North America and Europe: identification, biology, and management. Ithaca: Comstock Pub. Associates.

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