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Biology

This ant makes small nest mounds, which reach 25 cm in height and are around 30 cm in diameter. The core of the nest is either a tussock of grass or soil, covered with a 'thatch' of pieces of grass, heather and pine needles (4). The nests are located in sunny positions, which maximise the amount of sunlight falling on them (4). Coupled with the heat produced by the workers and the thatching (which helps to conserve heat) the nests are warmer than the surrounding soil (2). The nests usually have more than one queen and around 1000 workers. Although most recent records are of single, isolated nests, aggregations of 10-30 nests were once common, in which the workers of different nests interact without aggression (4). Usually, however the workers are extremely aggressive, and even attack larger wood ants, climbing onto the back of their opponent and decapitating them (4). The workers tend aphids in order to obtain 'honeydew', a sweet substance excreted by the aphids. Invertebrates are also caught or scavenged and taken back to the colony (4). Winged males and females fly in July and August. The fertilised females may return to their nest, or establish a new colony (4).

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Source: ARKive

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