This common and widespread ant creates large hilly nests that can be recognized by anyone who has spent time in Europe’s lowland forests. The workers are two-colored, red and dark brown to black. The size of the workers is between 4.5 – 9 mm and the queen size between 12 – 15 mm.
The primary food is the sweet secretion of aphids, but they also hunt on invertebrates such as insects and spiders, but they also consume large quantities of dead plants or animals. Feeding with resin and other plant fluids has also been observed. They also contribute to the spread of plants such as ferns and other plants that have oilseeds, the smell of which attracts them. This species of ant consumes only the greasy part of the seed, carrying the rest out of the nest and discarding. Food routes can be up to 100 meters long. Larger workers were observed, gathering food farther from the nest. F. rufa is commonly used in forestry and is often used in the area as a form of pest control.
We could envy his strength. Although this crumb weighs only eight milligrams, it is able to lift up to fifty times its weight. If a person weighing 80 kilograms had similar weightlifting abilities, he would be able to lift an adult elephant.
Thus, the mountain ant easily handles itself, for example, with a dead bee, which it carries in its mouth. If he encounters prey that is still beyond his power, more ants come to his aid and carry the oversized load together.
They build underground nests for about a thousand individuals. Above the nest, they build a 1.5 m high hill out of plant remains, which keeps the nest warm and protects ants from predators. Often the hill of an anthill surrounds the dusty stump because the ants more easily form the top of the nest in the churning wood. However, corridors, chambers, breeding chambers and food warehouses are located deep underground. The workers continuously remove moisture-damaged material from the nest to dry on the surface. On cold days and nights, ants close the entrance openings with branches.
Admirable longevity is the prerogative of the queen, workers live for a maximum of six years and stumps die even faster. Their task after hatching is the only one – to mate with fertile females. After this act, the males die.