Yellow meadow ants on the Bath Skyline

Hummocks made by yellow meadow ants on the Bath Skyline

Ever noticed groups of large mounds on the Bath Skyline as you've walked by? These hummocks are actually the anthills of ancient yellow meadow ants.

The yellow meadow ant is not particular where it builds its nest and they can often be found in damp meadows, on woodland edges, grassy ditches, on the banks of streams or in dry fields, vineyards and gardens. They only avoid dark woods, which is why you can find so many of them on the Bath Skyline.
 
Learn all about the yellow meadow ants with our information sheet below. Discover facts ranging from where they live to when they mate to what they eat.
 

Anthills

Above the underground nest (which can be 40cm deep) is an earthy mound (anthill). This is covered in vegetation and is around 30cm high. Some mounds have even been found up to 50cm high. The mound is closed off, there are no connecting paths leading to its centre.
 

Lifecycle

The male and female ants swarm in July and August. They create holes in the earth mound, climb out and make their mating flight. The female then sheds her wings and finds a new nest by herself. She makes a chamber in the ground, stays there throughout the winter and then begins to lay her eggs in the spring.
 

Yellow meadow ant facts

  • Because they live mainly underground their eye sight is very weak. They hunt and move by smell.
     
  • Their main food is honeydew, a sugar-rich sticky liquid, which is secreted by aphids living on the grass roots. Occasionally they take animal food-insects.
     
  • The workers are pale yellow, the females are brown and the males are brownish black.
     
  • They are not aggressive. If their nests are attacked they normally withdraw into the safety of anthill’s underground chambers. If they do have to defend themselves they bite the victim’s skin and squirt a little formic acid from their abdomen into the wound.
     
  • They are small and a fairly common species of subterranean ant. They are widespread throughout Europe.