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Discover wildlife at The Kymin

A common pipistrelle bat
Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) bat | © National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

It may be a small place, but The Kymin, near Monmouth, is chock full of a variety of wildlife from badgers and bats to Britain’s rarest and largest ants, the red wood ant. Discover more about the wildlife you can spot.

Wonderful woodland

Around half of The Kymin is an area of semi-natural, broad-leaved native woodland, dominated by beech and oak with a few sycamore and rowan trees.

Some of these trees were planted more than 200 years ago around the time the Round House was built, to enhance the beauty of this hilltop site. Several Scots pine trees were planted, which today provide a much-needed home for one of the UK’s rarest ants, the red wood ant.

To the north is Beaulieu Wood or Grove, owned by the Woodland Trust. At one time, an arched doorway led from the path outside the Round House through to this woodland.

With areas of ancient semi-natural woodland, it’s the perfect place to spot woodland birds and mammals.

Wild boar

The Kymin borders the Forest of Dean, one of the few areas in the UK now home to one of our most elusive large animals – the wild boar.

Wild boar were once a common and native species to Britain but were hunted to extinction by the 13th century.

They were re-introduced but became extinct again by the 17th century. The piglets and sows that we see today, are the first in around 300 years to roam Britain, as freely as their native ancestors.

Wild boars don’t seek human company and can be difficult to catch sight of. They have been sighted at The Kymin, so with patience, you may get a glimpse of these elusive creatures.

Please be careful, as they can be dangerous if they feel threatened.

Nocturnal nature

Pipistrelle and soprano bats have both made The Kymin their home. Pipistrelles are the UK’s smallest and most common bats and can eat up to 3,000 insects in one night.

The woods provide the perfect habitat for owls, especially Tawny owls. Take a walk at dusk to hear their distinctive ‘twit-twoo’ call and high-pitched screeching.

Badgers can also be found at The Kymin. These elusive and shy mammals are wonderful to watch if you’re lucky enough to catch them playing on a summers evening.

A lone red wood ant at The Kymin
A lone red wood ant at The Kymin, Monmouthshire, Wales | © National Trust Images/Mike Hallett

Red wood ants

Most of us don’t notice when a common little ant stumbles across our feet, but red wood ants are hard to miss, with the queens measuring about 12mm long. Their nests can be found across The Kymin and are fascinating to watch.

An endangered species

The ants are on the Red Data List of endangered species in Wales and are under threat from changes in agriculture and woodland management.

Nearly all the nests at The Kymin are on the edge of the bowling green, in the rockery and below the Round House in the meadow.

Although the nests do move year on year, they tend to stay in the same general areas.

We carry out a survey of the red wood ants every five years to monitor the condition and extent of the population.

A queendom

The queens can live for more than 15 years, while the workers only live for a year or so. The males are very short-lived, dying after they mate with the queens.

The queen is the only ant to lay eggs that are reared to adulthood.

The workers are all female and don’t reproduce because they’re not fully developed, but they do occasionally lay eggs to use as food.

As the name implies, they do all the work in the colony, maintaining the nest and tending to the queen and her brood.

The males don’t work as their sole purpose is to mate with the queen, in spring.

Food for thought

The red wood ants get much of their food from aphids, ‘milking’ them by gently stroking them to release droplets of honeydew – a food rich in sugars, acids, salts and vitamins.

This is the aphids’ waste product, a result of having to take in a lot of tree sap to get the protein they need. In return for the honeydew, the ants protect the aphids’ precious sugar source from predators and competing sap-loving insects.

When you visit, spend a few minutes watching these ingenious insects and marvel at their extraordinary nests.

A small group of visitors is standing in front of the white, two-storey, circular, castellated Georgian banqueting house at The Kymin, Monmouthshire, at sunset.

Discover more at The Kymin

Find out when The Kymin is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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A small group of visitors is standing in front of the white, two-storey, circular, castellated Georgian banqueting house at The Kymin, Monmouthshire, at sunset.

Visiting The Kymin 

Discover a world of magnificent views and peaceful woodlands, combined with beautiful pleasure grounds just waiting to be enjoyed - with lots of picnics and gentle walks.

Visitors at the two-storey, circular, castellated Georgian banqueting house at the Kymin, Monmouthshire, Wales

History of The Kymin 

The Kymin is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle against the stunning backdrop of the Wye Valley and the Brecon Beacons and is also home to the unusual Naval Temple.

Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) emerging from log roost.

Our guide to UK bats 

The places we look after are home to every kind of bat that lives in the UK. Use our handy guide to identify different species and find out where to spot them.