Saturday, 26 May 2012

Ants of Seething Wells

My neighbour is a myrmecologist and has noted a specific lack of myrmex in these pages, which this post seeks to address. Myrmecology is the scientific study of ants, a branch of entomology. Some early myrmecologists considered ant society as an ideal and sought to find solutions to human problems by studying them. Their diversity and prominence in ecosystems has also made them important components in the study of biodiversity and conservation.

Compared with much of the rest of Europe, Great Britain has a smaller number of ants. The size and diversity of ant species in any area is largely determined by the highest summer soil temperature, and this being so, it is not surprising that the greatest concentration of different species is centred in the warmer parts of the country – Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey, the Isle of Wight and Kent being the 5 richest counties, with 33, 31, 29, 27 and 26 different species present respectively.

Four species are recorded at Seething Wells including: a subspecies of the common black ant Lasius niger and the red ant Myrmica rubra. These are the most widespread in the country, colonising a great variety of different habitats. Another red ant Myrmica ruginodis is a common species but is found in woodland, where it nests in tree stumps.
Ant mound at Richmond Park rich in plants and  fungi 
Also fairly common is the yellow meadow ant Lasius flavus, a favourite. It build’s earthen mounds that last years in undisturbed grassland and mounds have been noted on the wharf. Some of these mounds grow enormous and may be up to fifty years old. They allow an entire community of small and delicate plants to thrive and in turn provide a micro climate for other insects. Sometimes skylarks nest behind them in Richmond or Bushy parks.

If you would like more information about a particular species at Seething Wells then make your request below.

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