Although they are bemoaned and deftly eradicated by the squeamish denizens of North America, the common wood ant is the star of conservation efforts in Europe, where its populations are protected in many European nations. Although little is known about the habitat needs of the wood ant, it is widely known that they contribute heavily to the health of Britain’s forests by ridding growing trees of parasitic insects. The nests they build, comprised of organic materials from the forest floor, in turn nourish new plants and trees once they’ve been abandoned by the colony.
Their role in proper land management is at the forefront of a study being conducted by researchers from the University of York, wherein the ants’ behavior and communication will be tracked with tiny radio receivers. The information scientists glean from the study will not only be useful in future land management, but could have implications for human communication networks as well. Check out this clip of a wood ant being fitted with its very own 1mm radio receiver.
Image via Billy Lindblom