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Red Ant


Ant societies are centred upon a complex nest that arises after the mated queen has established a small starter nest beneath the soil. The nests are generally found under stones, fallen branches or in tree stumps and hollow trees. The queen rears the first brood of larvae within the nest, feeding them on saliva. These larvae mature and then pupate to form the first cohort of worker ants. While she is rearing the first batch of larvae, the queen uses the reserves from her flight muscles ect as food. The colony then grows rapidly with the queen laying eggs, these being traded and fed by the workers.

Red ants are carnivorous, feeding on other ants, and small insects in general. The red ants also tend groups of aphids from which they “milk” the honey-dew. In August the sexual forms are formed, often in substantial swarms. Climatic conditions affect this since the males and females exploit the thermal currents to rise and mate in mid-air. Very few of these fertilised queens survive to set up colonies.




The red ant can pose a real problem as a nuisance pest. Foraging workers are frequently found in domestic and industrial premises searching out sugary food sources. The mating swarms can also be short-term nuisance. This species stings readily, producing a reaction similar to stinging nettles.


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Males and queens are produced at certain times of the year and these are the winged individuals that are common on thundery days in summer. The workers of myrmica are about 3.5-5 mm in length, almost exclusively red or reddish brown in colour although the bases of the antennae, the tarsi, and the leg joints have a yellowish colour. The winged presumptive queens (4.5-7 mm in length) and males (4.5-5 mm in length) which emerge at intervals during the summer months, most commonly in August, have different coloration - the queens being brown and the males dark brown to almost black. The wings are lost by the female once mating has taken place and the males die shortly after mating. males dark brown to almost black. The wings are lost by the female once mating has taken place and the males die shortly after mating.

Key features

In common with other ant species, there are a number of different castes comprising a complicated community within the ant’s nest. The workers are the most common caste and the ones that are most likely to be seen by the pest controller, particularly in houses with gardens and generally in the countryside rather than urban habitat.