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Red Wood Ant Formica Rufa

Red Wood Ant Formica Rufa


Formica Rufa, also known as the Red Wood Ant, is a very aggressive species of ant known for its vibrant red colour and aggressive nature. These ants are parasites (the queen locates another species colony, kills their queen and grows the brood as her own), commonly found in wooded areas where they build large nest mounds that can reach 7 feet tall. Red Wood Ant colonies can reach forty hundred thousand individuals in nature, along with up to one hundred queens, making them a fascinating and dynamic addition to any ant farm or terrarium. In captivity, a suitable formicarium can house up to 1000 workers for a few years.

With their striking appearance and intriguing behaviour, Formica Rufa ants are popular with antkeepers worldwide. We recommend keeping them in a natural setup - tall enough to suit their needs and very well-ventilated, as these ants spray formic acid which can endanger the colony.

Habitat and DistributionThe species boasts a wide distribution throughout Europe, including the very south areas of the UK and is also found in Russia on parkland ground in moderate rainfall areas. Formica rufibarbis ants show a preference for nesting above the ground with sand-loam soil, twigs, tree needles and all possible forest nesting materials, etc.

Physical Characteristics and IdentificationThe size of the worker ranges from 4 to 10 mm - very polymorphic, while queens are larger, measuring between 10 to 12 mm - reddish-brown colour, with a black head and abdomen. Queen's lifespan is 10- 15 years. The worker's lifespan is 1-3 years, depending on the size - the smaller the worker the shorter.

FeedingThese ants are omnivorous, feeding on various small insects, nectar, and honeydew from aphids being their main food, making them relatively easy to care for in a captive environment.

Hibernation / Diapause: Yes

From October till March at 5-10 degrees Celsius.Habitat requirements: Natural setup - very well-ventilated!Air humidity: Keep a steady humidity level of 50-60% but not higher as the habitat might get mouldy easily.Temperature: if you add an outworld: overnight 18 and maximum daily temperature 28°C. In the nest area: 22 - 25°C.

Nesting and Colony Structure

The social structure within Formica rufa colonies is intricate, with nests starting from a single queen and potentially growing to include 100 queens with up to 400,000 or more workers.


Egg to adult ant, the same as most Formica species, around 10 weeks. The warmer the nest the faster (around 8 weeks).

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