Formica rufa – The red ants in the Grünewald


The red ant belongs to the pro­tect­ed species and nests in those places of the for­est where it is sun­ny and pro­tect­ed against the wind.

The nest of the red ants can hold more than 100.000 ants and is in form of a hill, com­posed by spruce- and pine nee­dles, lit­tle branch­es and grass, with a com­pli­cat­ed tun­nel sys­tem under­ground. On the sur­face there are sev­er­al con­stant­ly guard­ed entrances, which are blocked for the night or at bad weath­er con­di­tions and opened for the day.

The formi­ca rufa are very socia­ble insects. Their whole social life turns around the queen, who can reach an age up to 15 years. After the win­ter she starts her main mis­sion, the egg depo­si­tion. After 2 to 6 weeks white lar­vae are hatch­ing out, becom­ing young queens, females work­ers or male ants. Every work­er ant ants has a very pre­cise duty: while the ones have to look after the nest with the eggs (ren­o­va­tion a or enlarge­ment), the oth­ers are on a guardian mis­sion, or have to bring the food.

For the nup­tial flight, the winged females and males are leav­ing the nest at the begin­ning of May.

The red ants repre­sent an impor­tant source of food for nume­rous animals.

While cop­u­lat­ing the female ant receives the sperm for her entire life, which is con­served until it is need­ed for a lat­er egg deposition.

After the cop­u­la­tion act the queen is return­ing or to her old nest or found­ing a new soci­ety. But before that, they are loos­ing their wings. Nor­mal­ly the males are dying after hav­ing fecun­dat­ed the queen.

The red ants are fed on small insects, dead or alive and main­ly on plant lous­es, from which they par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­ish the egests, being a sort of hon­ey dew. The red ants do not gath­er win­ter pro­vi­sions, as they are falling into hiber­na­tion, as all oth­er ant species.

The red ants are wel­com­ing many “guests” intheir nest. Like for exam­ple the flower chafer larvae.

The red ants pro­mote the hon­ey dew pro­duc­tion by pro­tec­ting its pro­du­cers like plant lou­ses for example.

The red ants are cap­tu­ring hund­reds of dif­fe­rent insect spe­cies, often nocu­ous for the forest.

Red ants are improv­ing the soil qual­i­ty around their nest area.

The red ants scat­ter the seeds of more than 100 native wild plants.