When I think of endangered British animals the Pine Marten springs to mind long before an ant would. However, the red-barbed ant appears to be one of our most endangered species. Scientists are to begin a project to save the ant from disappearing here. Until 10 years ago it was found in nests across Surrey's heathland, but now only one nest, which is all-female, remains on the British mainland.
Emily Brennan, at the Zoological Society of London, and a team of scientists, will go to Scilly to look for just-mated females. for release on the mainland. Last summer an all-male nest at a rifle range in Pirbright, Surrey, was destroyed by slavemaker ants which took the growing red-barbed ant pupae to their own nest, then reared them as worker ants. Fortunately the species does not seem to be threatened elsewhere in Europe.