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Biology

Wood ants are carnivorous, and workers carry a wide variety of prey back to the nest along well-defined trails that extend throughout the territory (4). Food taken to the nest is destined for the brood, the workers suck sugary sap from plants and also tend aphids for the sugary 'honey dew', which they exude from the anus (4). All wood ant nests are constructed in a way that maximises the amount of sunlight falling onto the mound. Due to the heat produced by the workers and the thatching (which helps to conserve heat) the nests are warmer than the surrounding soil (4). At the beginning of spring each year, special eggs are produced; unfertilised eggs develop into males and the eggs that become queens are fed more than those that are destined to become workers. During June, usually on a warm humid day, huge numbers of winged reproductive males and females leave the nest and engage in a mating flight. After mating the male soon dies, the queen sheds her wings, and a new colony is established (4). Occasionally the queen may 'take-over' a southern wood ant (Formica rufa) colony, by killing the resident queen and slowly building up a colony of F. lugubris while the host workers die (4).

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Source: ARKive

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