29 January 2007

Saving an ant

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.


elasticwaistbandlady said...

I think we can safely blame haute cuisine for this. Somewhere, there is an Englishman chef who runs a secret chocolate ant dipping operation and their specialty is the red barbed ant. Saving the ant before something as irresistibly cute as the Pine Marten? What a bunch of antholes!!!!

We read a book for Book Club last year from a German author, called, Inkheart. I didn't much care for it, and it was over 600 pages, which is a lot for a working mom and 2 kids under 12 to finish in time for a bi-monthly club meeting. My girls loved it though, and the movie version is slated for release sometime this year. Anyway, one of the main characters carries around a marten named Gwen through the entirety of the book. Well, until he gets killed off.

jams o donnell said...

But ants perform important functions. They may be tiny but for all we know their loss might have a bigger impact than losing a larger creature..

I haf not heard of the book but I am glad the girls liked it.. A good story is a good story!