Southern wood ant

Southern wood ant

An ant colony consist of a queen, male ants and workers.



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  • - A fertile female, which loses its wings after being fertilized. Its function is laying eggs.
  • - Its function is fertilizing the queen.

  • - A fertile female, which loses its wings after being fertilized. Its function is laying eggs.
  • - Its function is fertilizing the queen.


Multitudes of ants can often be found on forest litter or even on tree trunks. One of the more well-known ants, the southern wood ant, lives mainly in pine forests.
The cone-shaped nests of southern wood ants are called ant colonies, which may grow up to 1 meter (3.28 feet) tall. Members of the ant colony are the workers, the short-lived, winged males and the queen. The queen has a large abdomen.

The workers are 4–9-millimeter-large (0.16–0.35-inch-large), reddish brown, infertile females. Their antennae, compound eyes and strong mandibles are located on their large heads. The mandibles have an essential role in delivering material to the colony, carrying offspring and acquiring food. Ants capture their prey with their mandibles, and then inject toxins from their abdomens into the wounds of their prey.

Southern wood ants consume a large number of caterpillars and worms, but they also eat organic matter. For this reason, their work is indispensable in forests. Large colonies collect and destroy 2–2.5 million insects annually. Workers only eat a small portion of the food they collect, the rest they take home. When the returning wood ant encounters its hungry partner, the partner indicates his hunger by hitting the forehead of the ant with its mandibles. The worker then lifts its head and gives some food to its partner through its mouthparts. The leftovers are given to the larvae or the queen.

Males are responsible for fertilizing the queen.

After mating, the queen loses its wings and lays its eggs. The eggs develop into larvae, which turn into pupae and later into imagoes (adult ants).

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