Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean








Home Page


The most noticeable indication that wood ants are around is the sight of the ants' nest. They are typically large structures sometimes exceeding a metre in height and twice as wide. They have also been known to penetrate over two metres below the ground level and contain several kilometres of tunnels. The nests will often centre around a tree stump and the mound is built up gradually as the colony expands. The mound is constructed with earth removed from the lower parts of the nest and is topped with a thatch made from various woodland debris, in particular, pine needles. Throughout the ants' active season the nest is constantly and meticulously maintained and improved by the workers.

The wigwam shaped log pile was built by the previous team at this site and this shaped log pile actually takes a very long time to rot down so is very conducive to the lives of the invertebrates who live here.

Nests of the southern wood ant (Formica Rufa) are usually located along woodland rides and clearings where they can intercept the spring and early summer sunshine. This insolation appears to be critical to initiating colony activity and brood development after winter. Nests will also encroach from woodland onto more open heath and scrub. Each nest may contain over 100,000 workers, several queens and, from May to July, winged gynes and males. Different nests can be interlinked by trails to form huge colonies.

This shows the very large wood ant nest found along the track where other nests were also found stretching across a wide area.



02 October, 2007

Dymock Woods/Shaw Common

Grid Ref SO669279

We met at Beechenhurst Lodge car park to lift share to Dymock Woods as these woods are not in the central area of the Forest of Dean although they are part of the Forest. Dymock Woods are well known for the magnificent display of wild daffodils in the spring . There was some confusion when we arrived at the site because a team of contractors were there with mechanised grass cutters ready to trim the walkways and, although we trimmed back some old dead saplings we soon moved onto another area of the woods.

There has been a regular team of conservation workers from Herefordshire working in this area which has a low stream very high in the PH levels whilst lower PH levels pervade the ground up the hillside. This means that the biodiversity and variation in the invertebrates are extremely rich. There is an ongoing project to coppice the low growing shrub and improve the heath.

The most amazing wildlife to see at this site were the wood ant nests which were enormous and the ants could be seen scuttling across the mounds.



Wood Ant Nest

Wood Ant Nest

Small wood ant nest behind sticks

Brush clearing

Back to Top