Characteristics of thermal processes in ant nests built under stones (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)


  • Stanislav Stukalyuk Instutute for Evolutionary Ecology NAS of Ukraine
  • Yury Radchenko



ants, stones, nesting, rate of brood development, illumination conditions


Ants prefer to nest under stones. This is due to temperature regimes favorable to the development of ant broods. In this paper, we investigated the influence of stone and ambient parameters on ant nests and created a model of thermal processes in ant nests under stones. The simulation results were compared with temperature measurements. Temperature was measured under 20 stones under different illumination conditions (sun, penumbra and shade) for 3 ant species (Myrmica rubra, Formica cinerea, Lasius niger) in Ukraine from April to August 2021. Stones were categorized as hot, warm and cold. Each stone was checked once a week for the number of workers and brood. Under two stones, temperature was measured using loggers. The number of workers under hot stones in spring increased three weeks earlier than under cold and warm ones. In May-June, the maximum number of workers was recorded under hot stones. In July, the number of ants was minimal under all categories of stones. Larvae appeared under hot stones two weeks earlier than under other categories of stones. In August, the number of pupae under cold and warm stones was greater than under hot ones. Number of larvae and pupae was positively influenced by the diameter of the stone, whereas stone height did not exert an important role. Ants preferred to inhabit nests under large flat stones, which are easily heated in spring and warm the soil under them. Another important characteristic was the location of the stones. The highest brood development was noted in nests under stones in open areas well lit by the sun in the daytime. In summer ants migrated from under hot stones, because soil under it dry and warmed. Stones and their position may be important factors in accelerating the development of brood in colonies of ant species that do not have active thermoregulation.


Download data is not yet available.


Banschbach V., Levit N., Herbers J. 1997. Nest temperatures and thermal preferences of a forest ant species: is seasonal polydomy a thermoregulatory mechanism? Insectes Socieaux, 44: 109–122. Doi:

Baxter F., Hole F. 1967. Ant (Formica cinerea) perturbation in a prairie soil. Soil Science Society of America Proceedings, 31(3): 425–428.

Brian M.V. 1956. Segregation of species of the ant genus Myrmica. Journal of Animal Ecology, 25(2): 319–337.

Brian M. V. 1977. Ants. Collins, London, 223 pp. + plates.

Brovkin V.L. 2014. Numerical methods in engineering calculations. Textbook - Dnepropetrovsk: NMetAU, 108 pp.

Catarineu C., Reyes-López J., Herraiz J.A., Barberá G.G. 2018. Effect of pine reforestation associated with soil disturbance on ant assemblages (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in a semiarid steppe. European Journal of Entomology, 115: 562–574. Doi:

Collingwood C.A. 1961. Ants in Finland. Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation, 73: 190–195.

Czechowski W., Radchenko A., Czechowska W. 2002. The ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Poland. Warszawa. Museum and Institute of Zoology PAS.

Dean W.R.J., Turner J.S. 1991. Ants nesting under stones in the semi-arid Karoo, South Africa: predator avoidance or temperature benefits? Journal of Arid Environments, 21: 59–69.

Dlussky G.M. 1975. Spring heating of nests in red wood ants (Formica rufa L., Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Scientific reports of higher school. Biological Sciences, 12: 23–28.

Dlussky G.M. 1980. Temperature regime in the nests of some species and the evolution of thermoregulation in ants of the genus Formica. In: Physiological and Population Ecology of Animals. Publishing House of Saratov University: 13–36.

Elias M., Rosengren R., Sundström L. 2004. Seasonal polydomy and unicoloniality in a polygynous population of the redwood ant Formica truncorum. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 57: 339–349.

Espadaler X. 2007. The ants of El Hierro (Canary Islands), pp. 113-127. In: Snelling R.R., Fisher B.L, Ward P.S. (eds). Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): homage to E. O. Wilson – 50 years of contributions. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, 80.

Frouz J., Finer L. 2007. Diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in wood ant (Formica polyctena) nest temperature in two geographically distant populations along a south – north gradient. Insectes Sociaux, 54: 251–259. Doi:

Frouz J., Jílková V. 2008. The effect of ants on soil properties and processes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News, 11: 191–199.

Gaspar C. 1971. Les Fourmis de le Famenne, iv. Une Etude ethologique. Bulletin de l’Institut royal de sciences naturelles de Belgique, 47(31): 1–23.

Gaspar C. 1972. Actions des fourmis du genre Lasius dans l’écosistème prairie. Ekologia polska, 20 (15): 145–152.

Hughes J. 2006. A review of wood ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Commission ed. Report N. 178 (ROAME No. F04AC319).

Ihnatiuk O.A., S.V. Stukalyuk 2015. Degradation changes in the structure of multispecies associations of ants in urbanized areas. Russian Journal of Ecology, 46(1): 109–115.

Jílková V., Frou J., Domisch T., Finer L. 2010. The effect of wood ants (Formica s. str.) on soil chemical and microbiological properties. 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Soil Solutions for a Changing World 1 – 6 August 2010, Brisbane, Australia, 119–122. [Published on DVD].

Kadochová S., Frouz J. 2013. Thermoregulation strategies in ants in comparison to other social insects, with a focus on red wood ants (Formica rufa group). F1000Res. 2013 Dec 19;2: 280. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-280.v2. eCollection.

Kadochová S. 2017. Thermoregulation in ant genus Formica, an individual vs. colony conflict. PhD dissertation. Praha, 2017. 23 pp.

Industrial ovens. 1975. Reference guide for calculations and design. 2nd ed., add. and reworker, Kazantsev E.I. Moscow: Metallurgy, 368 pp.

Kipyatkov V.E. 2001. Seasonal life cycles and the forms of dormancy in ants (Hymenoptera: Formicoidea). Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemiae, 65: 211–238.

Kilpeläinen J., Niemelä P., Kuuluvainen T. 2011 A review of the study of Oinonen (1956) on ants on rocks and their contribution to forest regeneration in Southern Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 26 (S10): 72–80. Doi: 10.1080/02827581.2011.517950

Kravchenko M.A. 1973. Thermoregulation in the nests of the ant Lasius fuliginosus. Zoological Journal, 52(3): 454–457.

Pedersen J.S., Boomsma J.J. 1999. Effect of habitat saturation on the number and turnover of queens in the polygynous ant Myrmica sulcinodis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 12(5): 903–917. Doi:

Penick C.A., Tschinkel R. 2008. Thermoregulatory brood transport in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Insectes Sociaux, 55: 176–182.

Pontin J. 2005. Ants of Surrey, Surrey Wildlife rust, Surrey.

Roces F., Nunez, J.A. 1995. Thermal sensitivity during brood care in workers of two Camponotus ant species: circadian variation and its ecological correlates. Journal of Insect Physiology, 41: 659–669.

Romanko Y.V., Reshetnyak I.L, Siberia A.V., Meshkova A.G. 2016. Modeling of solar radiation transfer in urban conditions. Technical thermophysics and industrial heat energy: a collection of scientific papers. Issue 8. Dnipro: New Ideology, 273–279.

Salem M., Hole F. 1968. Ant (Formica exsectoides) perturbation in a forest soil. Soil Science Society of America Proceedings, 32(4): 563–567.

Ślipiński P., Trigos-Peral G., Maák I.E., Wojciechowska,I., Witek M. 2021. The influence of age and development temperature on the temperature-related foraging risk of Formica cinerea ants. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 75: 107. Doi:

Sorvari J., Hakkarainen H. 2005. Deforestation reduces nest mound size and decreases the production of sexual offspring in the wood ant Formica aquilonia. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 42: 259–267.

Stukalyuk S.V., Radchenko V.G. 2011. Structure of multi-species ant assemblages (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in the Mountain Crimea. Entomological Review, 91(1): 15–36. Doi:

Stukalyuk S.V., Radchenko Y.N., Netsvetov M.V., Gilev A.A. 2020. Effect of mound size on intranest thermoregulation in the red wood ants Formica rufa and F. polyctena (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Turkish Journal of Zoology, 44: 266–280. Doi:

Véle A., Holuša J. 2008. Impact of vegetation removal on the temperature and moisture content of red wood ant nests. Insectes Sociaux, 55(4): 364–369. Doi:

Vepsäläinen K., Pisarski B. 1982. Assembly of island ant communities. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 19: 327–335.

Wheeler M.W. 1901. The compound and mixed nests of American ants. American Naturalist, 35 (415): 513–539.

Zakharov A.A. 1999. Ant colonization of biotopes in the Karkonosze Mountains, Izvestiya RAS. 26(6): 690–700.




How to Cite

Stukalyuk, S., & Radchenko, Y. . (2022). Characteristics of thermal processes in ant nests built under stones (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Fragmenta Entomologica, 54(1), 73–88.



Research Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)