Chance To Observe Rare St Martin’s Red Barbed Ants

Red barbed ant. Photo by Alison Pitts.

The Wildlife Trust is bringing an insect expert over from Kent to share his knowledge of the rare St Martin’s red barbed ant.

Ian Beavis, from Tunbridge Wells Museum, will point them out on a tour next Wednesday.

There are only two breeding grounds in the UK, with the colony at Chobham in Surrey having been restocked by queen ants from Scilly.

But Surrey Wildlife Trust worker, Scott Dodd, told us that London Zoo experts have found that ants from Normandy were closer related so they’d probably get insects from France in the future.

He says that would suggest that Scilly’s colony is older and distinct from the Continental species.

Julie Love from the Isles of Scilly wildlife Trust says the ants on Chapel Down, St Martin’s and on some of the uninhabited islands, do really well because those sites are windswept, which keeps the vegetation low.

And she says the ants are easy to spot. They’re larger than normal ants and behave differently.

They’re not that aggressive, except for one small area of St Martin’s, so they’re easy to study.

For details of the walk, go to the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust website.