(Order: Hymenoptera)

Brown Bumblebee/Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) (Parklands Country Club, South West Glasgow)

These bees are the only ones to have completely thick ginger hairy thoraxes. Supposedly, these bumble bees have rather long tongues which have the advantage of being able to reach deep into bell shaped flowers. Carder bees are also supposed to be one of the friendlier and least aggressive bees – rarely stinging, although I wouldn’t test this theory out myself.

Early Bumblebee (male top, mating bottom) (Bombus pratorum) (Parklands Country Club, South West Glasgow)

Due to large number of species and the variation in colouring that occurs, I find all bumblebees difficult to tell apart, but this one is perhaps one of the slightly more distinct ones.  The male early bumblebee (or early-nesting bumblebee) has this shaggy yellow collar and yellow waistband (although the yellow is sometimes missing) and in particular a conspicuous orangey-red tail. This bumblebee is common throughout the UK. It is known to breed in odd places, often breeding in old bird-boxes or in old piles of rubbish.  Here, they're breeding on a leaf instead! Unless provoked, these bees are friendly docile. creatures.

 Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) (Patterton, South West Glasgow)

An attractive looking bee. Whilst I find most bees difficult to tell apart, this one seems relatively distinctive, with orangey-brown hairs on its thorax, black abdomen, its distinctive white tail and black head. This only colonised Britain in 2000, and it seems to have slowly worked its way up to Scotland, but it still doesn't seem to be terribly common up here as yet.

Red-tailed Bumlebee  (female worker) (Bombus lapidaries) (Darnley Country Park and Pollock Estate, South West Glasgow)

A lovely little bee which is quite distinctive due to its orangey-red tail. This species also has black pollen baskets which distinguishes it from the similar-looking bee Bombus ruderarius. The female worker bee, as here, is black all over except for its 'tail'. The queen looks very similar but much larger. The male worker bee also has the orange-red tail but has yellow hair near its head. This bee went from dandelion to dandelion collecting pollen. Each time it landed the flower head swayed, making getting a sharp photo a real challenge.

White-tailed Bumlebee (Bombus lucorum)(Darnley Country Park, Darnley, South West Glasgow)

These bees are very common throughout Scotland and the UK although there is concern that their numbers are dwindling  They are large and this one has a yellow-orange 'collar' and a less strongly yellow coloured 'waist' and a white 'tail'. There are similar species, but this is the most common. These nest below the ground. There are distinctions in appearance between the males, the workers and the queens, but I'm afraid I always struggle to see the distinctions between them, but there are websites (such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust) which show photos and drawings to help you distinguish between them.

 Red Mason Bee (female) (Osmia bicornis)(Patterton, South West Glasgow)

This was found early in the year in mid-May hovering round and landing on this dead tree. It's quite a small, dishevelled looking bee, with scraggy white hairs on its thorax, although it abdomen is quite a striking brown colour. In fact, it is called red mason bees because of its liking for old walls, rather than because of its colour. It is a solitary, non-honey making bee which makes its nest in pre-existing cavities in walls and presumably dead trees. We know this is a female as its head is all black. Males have white hairs on their head. It seems like this species is quite common in England, though quite a bit rarer up here in Scotland. Apparently, its Latin name was Osmia rufa before it was changed to its current name. 

Bee (Bombus sp.)(possibly Bombus magnus or similar)

It is fairly unusual to see a bumble bee that is just black and white with no yellow or orange hairs at all.  However, this bumble probably did have yellow or orange hairs which have just faded. It is difficult to identify this precisely.

Buff-tailed Bumlebee (Bombus terrestris) (Patterton, South West Glasgow)

Again not sure about the identification of this one, but it does have the deep yellow/orange collar and 2nd abdominal segment of the Bombus terrestris. The tail of a buff-tailed bumlebee is often white in workers, but is buff or off-white in queens which are large at around 2cms.

 Bee (possibly Andrena nigroaenea or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

At first I thought this was a leafcutter bee, but an expert in the field commented that the wingveins ruled this out and that it was more likely to be a very worn and faded Andrena nigroaenea. I seem to have a habit of finding battered out old bees. Bit of a shame really as now I also have to add leafcutter bee to my wishlist of insects 'to find'.  

Mining Bee (Andrena sp.) (possibly Andrena bicolor or similar) (Back garden, South West Glasgow)

Mining bees are so called because they nearly all nest in the ground. It is difficult to determine the species without further examination, but it may be Andrena bicolor. The most distinguishing features of this bee are its hairy orangey thorax and long, hairy black abdomen with pale hairs between the segments.  All the texts seem to refer to the thorax as 'foxy brown' which I think makes the bee sound rather sexy.  It is a common mining bee which is often seen around the garden, which is where in fact I found this one. It is one of the earliest species to be seen and are solitary bees which do not live in colonies.

Early Mining Bee (female)(possibly Andrena haemorrhoa or similar) (Patterton, South West Glasgow)

Another mining bee like the one above, although the hairs on this bee's thorax are far more obviously 'foxy brown' than the one above. It is the female that has this strong colouring, whereas the males have lighter coloured hairs like the one above. In fact, the tip of this one's abdomen is also brown in colour, although unfortunately, you can't see that here and I didn't want to disturb it as it was 'asleep' at the time. Apparently, whilst insects are generally active during the day or during the night, the don't in fact 'sleep' but 'rest'. This state of rest is known as 'torpor' and during a period of torpor, the insect's body temperature and metabolic rate reduce. This is the state that enables animals to hibernate. I don't know if these are called 'early' mining bees because of the time of year they can be found, but the bee resting on the trunk of a tree was found in mid-April - pretty early for Scotland! The identity isn't certain as there are a number of similar members of this genus and I have received a post suggesting the three bottom photos may instead be Gwynne's Mining bee A. bicolour - lucky Gwynne having a bee named after her!

Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) (Langlands Moss Nature Reserve, East Kilbride, Glasgow)

All the texts I read say that other than bumble bees, this is the most recognisable and common bee. I feel I must be the only person on the planet that rarely sees these and definitely wouldn't immediately know it's a honey bee at all. Also, apparently, these bees are no longer naturally wild, and the ones we see are 'farmed' bees that have escaped. The type of honey bees we are likely to see are either workers or drones. As drones appear in the summer and have fatter bodies, this is a worker bee, as it was spotted in May and doesn't have the squarish body of a drone.

Leaf-cutter Bee (male)(Megachile centuncularis) (Mabie Forest Nature Reserve, Dumfries and Galloway)

Not the best photo in the world, but that's because this bee was darting from flower to flower like some maniac on speed. Couldn't possibly have picked up any pollen at that speed if that's what it was trying to do. It's quite a large, broad bee with noticeable 'bands' across its body. The male (here) has whiteish hairs surrounding its abdomen whereas the females have noticeably beautiful bright orange hairs. These bees cut semicircular shapes out of leaves and use them to build a nest for their larvae.

Painted Nomad Bee (Nomada fucata) (Eskrigg Nature Reserve, Lockerbie)

Terrible photo I'm afraid. It's very difficult to identify solitary bees from photos alone, but you can see the reddish-brown marking at the top of its abdomen, which is typical of these bees. It also has orange legs and I think it looks very wasp-like. It seems that these bees are most typically found in the south of England, so it may be fairly rare to see them in the south of Scotland where this one was found.

Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) (Pollok Country Park, South Glasgow)

Don’t suppose there’s much I can say about wasps that you don’t already know. Their nests are often holes in the ground, but sometimes they nest in houses. The common wasp displays the typically narrow ‘waist’, as can just about be seen in the photo on the right. It has prominent antennae and can be distinguished from other species of wasp by the black 'anchor' shape on its face – just about visible in this photo at the top. The two yellow blobs on the thorax help distinguish it from other species, although it's best to use a number of features as a number of wasps are similar. There are some good websites which have excellent photos comparing the features of the face, abdomen and thorax between all of the species of  these UK social wasps.

Saxon Wasp (Dolichovespula saxonica) (Patterton, South West Glasgow)

This wasp looks very similar to the common Vespula vulgaris wasp above, but there are a few distinctive differences. Firstly, whilst the common wasp has a black 'anchor' on its face, the Saxon wasp has a straight black line with a small dot on each side (top photos). In addition, whilst the common wasp has two yellow blobs on its thorax, the Saxon wasp has two yellow 'bars' which can just about be seen on the photo at the bottom right. The Saxon wasp is also yellow above its eyes. I find these wasps can get aggressive if they think you're stick your camera to close to them, so it is probably best to keep a bit of a distance from them or at least approach them slowly so they don't think they're under attack.

Two-girdled Digger Wasp (Argogorytes mystaceus)(Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

This thing would not stop moving, which is my excuse for not getting a better shot of it. However, as you can still see it is absolutely stunning. Quite a large shiny black wasp with two bands across its abdomen and a pair of yellow spots just below its 'waist' and a yellow spot at the base of its thorax. Its legs are an orangey-brown colour. I love the common name for this wasp - presumably so-called because of its two yellow stripes. Whilst I can't be sure of it's identity, these wasps are known to stock their nests with froghopper nymphs as food for its larvae taken from cuckoo-spit. And if you look very closely at these photos, you will see that this wasp was going round and round the stem of this plant where the cuckoo-spit is, presumably hunting out the froghopper nymph. And if you look even more closely at the bottom photo, I think you can actually see the wasp wrapped around the froghopper nymph (the large light green bullet-shaped object)!

Potter wasp (Ancistrocerus sp.)(Patterton, South West Glasgow)

A very attractive wasp. This one was a pretty small, only around 7mm or so. There are many species of similar potter wasps, but from what I can see on-line and in books, they are far more common down south and just dotted around parts of Scotland. The one distinguishing feature seems to be the "crooked' tip of their antennae, as can be seen quite clearly in the right antennae. These are narrow wasps with brown-stained wings and construct cavity nests in clay or mud.

Wasp (Ectemnius (Clytochrysus) cavifrons)

I am not certain about the identification of this wasp as I only got a chance to get one photo of it before it fly off never to return and so it's not the sharpest photo in the world. However, it has the two yellow 'dashes' behind its head, this very distinctive shape, the dark and yellow legs and abdomenal yellow stripes that don't quite meet in the middle. It was also found on this old dead tree which seems to be fairly typical for this species as they nest in burrows in decaying wood. These wasps prey on hoverflies. Whilst it seems that this species of wasp is fairly common and widespread in England, the records seem to show that within Scotland, it is only found around the Edinburgh area - which is rather peculiar.

Ruby tailed wasp (Chrysis ignita or similar) (Brighouse Bay Campsite, Kirkcudbright)

Ok -  these photos are so bad, they shouldn't really be going on the website at all, but ruby tailed wasps are apparently very common, so I felt I should include this one for identification purposes. There are a number of very similar species that can only be identified through detailed examination (which of course this one hasn't) so all I can say with any certainty is that it's a ruby tailed wasp of some description, although Chrysis ignite is the most common. All these wasps have bright glimmering greeny-blue head and thorax and red shimmery abdomens. They are also known as jewel wasps or cuckoo wasps because they lay their eggs in the nest of masons wasps or other insects. When the ruby tailed wasps hatch, the larvae then eat larvae of the mason wasps or other insect. I had seen many photos of this insects before I actually managed to eventually find one and it was much, much smaller than I was expecting - only about 6 - 8 mms in length. 

Sawfly (Tenthredo  sp.) (possibly Tenthredo colon or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

Sawflies are so called due to the saw-like appearance of the females ovipositor.  The females use this appendage to cut into plants where they can then lay their eggs (see the Doerus madidus below. A sawfly has a thick waist which distinguishes it from an ichneumon wasp which has a very narrow, defined waist. Having said that, I’ve seen this insect many times but never been able to get a decent photo of it yet to ensure it has the broad waist you would expect.

Sawfly (female) (Tenthredo sp.) (possibly Tenthredo livida or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

The first thing you notice about this quite a large insect is the white tips to its antennae. With its wings closed the only other noticeable feature is the brown tint to its wings and its large shiny black eyes. However, when it opens its wings, it may have, as here in the middle photo (but needn't have), a reddish-brown tip to its abdomen and black and white stigmata (or pterostigma) on the edges of the wings.  Some of these sawflies' abdomen are entirely black.  The female, as here, can be seen on the photo on the right, has a white spot on each side of her abdomen. Also, if you look closely at the photo in the middle, you can see it has a peculiar white mouth.

Figwort Sawfly (Tenthredo scrophulariae) (Mabie Forest Nature Reserve, Dumfries and Galloway)

This is apparently a very common sawfly in England, but  it seems it is only seen in the south of Scotland, which is where I found this one. A very large wasp-like creature with its black and yellow striped body, but its wings are an orangey-black colour and its antennae are a distinctive orange. It was perfectly relaxed and happy to have its photo taken - and it's abdomen was curved which makes me wonder whether it was laying eggs. In fact, when I expanded the photo, I think you can see her saw-like ovipositor, so she may well be cutting the leaf to lay her eggs!

Sawfly (Tenthredo sp.) (possibly Tenthredo notha or similar) (Waterfoot, South West Glasgow and Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

This sawfly is very similar to two other species and would need a proper expert to identify it definitively. Although sawflies are related to wasps, and some such as this one certainly look like them, they are harmless to humans and don’t sting. The upper thorax has black and yellow stripes and the male is all yellow underneath. The wings have a brownish tinge to them and the eyes are large and bulging.

Sawfly (Doerus madidus) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

This sawfly could be seen from quite far away due to the contrasting bright red and black markings on its thorax. The other noticeable feature which you can see when a macro lens is used, is its greyish hairy body and face and its black legs. This was found clutching on to a reed beside a pond. The only UK map of the location of this sawfly seems to show that all sightings have been in England and none in Scotland, but it's either migrated up north or the identification must be wrong. And last, but by no means least, I think the photo at the bottom left (see close up to the right) actually shows the female using her sawlike ovipositor to cut into the reed to lay her eggs - hence the name sawfly!

Sawflies (Tenthredinidae sp.)? (Brighouse Bay, Kirkcudbright)

This sawfly  has an orange abdomen and a black head and thorax.   The wings have black edges. It often feeds on the nectar and pollen of these plants. It is difficult to identify this without further examination.

Sawfly (possibly Athalia circularis or similar) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

Although a small sawfly, its orange abdomen makes it quite conspicuous. Exact identification would require examination of the insect. These sawflies look almost identical to the sawflies above. However, the ones above have striped legs, whereas this sawfly's legs are all yellow. Again, the wings have dark edges, and one particular feature of this sawfly is its all black thorax. Some species have 'harlequin-like' orange and black thoraxes. The photo at the bottom shows the sawflies mating on a reed in the middle of a pond.

Sawfly (possibly Rhogogaster viridis or similar) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

One of several very similar species. I think this is one of the most striking looking insects and I'm delighted to have managed to get so close to it as it was very camera-shy to start with. At first, it kept flitting from leaf to leaf to get away from me (despite me telling it how beautiful it was), but eventually, it must have decided I wasn't a threat and sat nicely as I snapped away. I love its bright green body, yellow and black thorax and alien-like green metallic eyes. It's said that the green body fades to yellow when it dies, but thankfully I haven't witnessed it personally. Apparently these are fairly common throughout the UK, but I’ve only seen this sawfly on a couple of occasions, so perhaps it’s less common in Scotland.

Sawfly (possibly Tenthredo mesomelas or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glagow)

This sawfly is pretty eye-catching - due to its sheer size and unusual apple-green abodomen and scuttelum (spot at the back of the thorax). At first I was convinced this must be some species of Rhogogaster as it is clearly a variation on a theme of the sawfly above. However, because its stigmata (markings on its wings) are black rather than green, it may be a Tenthredo sp. There are quite a number of very similar looking sawflies and you can go round in circles for hours trying to find a match. The interesting thing about this sawfly is that as well as eating pollen/nectar, it eats small flies as well, unlike most sawflies which are herbivorous (feed only on plants).

 Pear Sawfly (top photo adult, bottom photos pear slug larvae) (possibly Caliroa cerasi or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow) 

A fairly large robust looking insect with a stout abdomen which is entirely black. The adult sawfly is rarely seen. The larvae seem to be better known than the adults and damage fruit trees.  As you can see from the photos at the bottom, the larvae are slug-like creatures covered in slime which 'skeletonize' leaves by eating the leaf and leaving the veins, as you may just about make out from the photo on the right. In fact these pear slugs looks quite pink, but there are usually shiny black. Not very attractive slimy looking things - they don't look very appetising to me, and indeed it appears they don't look very appetising to predators either.

Cimbicid Sawfly (Auchindrain, Argyll)

I really had no idea what this was the first time I saw it.  It looked like a bee without hairs or stripes. It was only after some digging around that I found it was probably a Cimbicid sawfly.  This species' wings are tinged yellow with noticable black margins.  The abdomen is large, black and hairless although the head and thorax seem to have sparse white hairs.  The legs are orange.  Its four wings can clearly be seen in the photograph on the left. The most distinguishing feature is its clubbed antennae which I understand is common to all such sawflies. It seemed unperturbed by my taking a photo of it and although it looks pretty ferocious, it cannot sting.

Ichneumon Wasp (Ichneumon sp.) (possibly Ichneumon suspiciosus or similar) (Brighouse Bay Holiday Park, Kirkcudbright)

Ichneumon wasps are slender insects with even more narrow ‘waists’ and long antennae. Most larvae are internal parasites that eventually kill their hosts. Unlike most wasps, ichneumon wasps do not possess a sting and so are perfectly harmless to humans.This species has a red band on its abdomen, a cream spot on its scutellum, where the wings attach, and cream spots at the tip of its abdomen.  It also has a narrow cream band on each antennae.  The legs are striped black and red. Its larvae parasitize moth caterpillars.         

Ichneumon Wasp (female) ovipositing (possibly Lissonota (Lissonota) lineolaris) (Blawhorn Moss Nature Reserve, Near Bathgate)

Many thanks once again to for helping me to provide a possible identity for this ichneumon, although the ID isn't certain as there are a number of similar species. What I love about this is that you can see the ichneumon wasp ovipositing i.e. laying her eggs into these grass seeds. You can see the long, sharp needle-like ovipositor being placed in the seeds. However, as ichneumons commonly parasitise other larvae, it is possible (according to ispot thanks again!) that there is actually a larva in the grass seed which the ichneumon is laying its eggs in. The long thicker appendage you can see at the back is the sheath that is used to protect the female's delicate ovipositor when it's not in use. Normally, ichneumon's are always moving about, so it's almost impossible to get a photo that isn't a complete blur, but because this one was laying her eggs, she kept reasonably still for a decent amount of time, which meant that I was able to get slightly better photos than usual - although as ever, they're not quite as sharp as I would have liked. Wish I had David Attenborough and his crew with me - they would have known what to do with this...



Ichneumon Wasp (possiblDiphyus amatorius or similar) (Mabie Forest Nature Reserve, Dumbries and Galoway)

Large and rather fearsome-looking ichneumon wasp that just takes your breath away. The broad bands of black and yellow on its thorax as well as its striped legs and long antennae make this a stunningly beautiful creature. This ichneumon wasp was perfectly happy to continue feeding on pollen unperturbed by a camera being pointed at it at close range. Thank you to  again for helping with a possible identification for th this particularly as it seems to be rarely found.

Ichneumon Wasp (Ichneumon sp.) (possibly Ichneumon insidiosus or similar) (Kilmartin, Argyll)

Another stunning ichneumon wasp with shiny black head, thorax and lower abdomen.  Its legs are yellowy-orange and black.  But the obvious feature is the broad bright terracotta band on its abdomen. This is a male feeding on Laserpitium latifolium.

Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp (Netelia sp.) (Brighouse Bay, Kirkcudbright)

On the basis that insects don’t have tails, it seems a bit baffling to me to call this a short-tailed ichneumon wasp, particularly as the abdomen, which looks a bit like a tail, isn’t short at all.  I’m sure someone can enlighten me. This species is reddish-brown and has very long antennae.  It parasitizes the caterpillars of moths and the female will try to ‘sting’ you with its ovipositor if you try to handle it.  Who in their right might would try to handle one of these…?

Ichneumon Wasp (Icnneumon sp.) (possibly Ichneumon stramentarius or similar) (Brighouse Bay Holiday Park, Kirkcudbright)

I was camping with friends when I took this photo so had to do it on the sly otherwise my street cred would have gone straight out of the plastic window. This insect has a broad white band on its antennae, a white spot at the base of its thorax, three joined up white blobs at the base of its abdomen (which are just visible here) and an orangey- brown segment at the top of it abdomen. Its legs appear to be striped black at the top, followed by a stripe of yellow and then brown at the base.

Ichneumon Wasp (Helconidea sp.)(possibly Helconidea ruspator or similar)

A stunning and very majestic looking all black insect with bright orange legs and long antennae. The female of this species has a long narrow ovipositor which is completely absent in the male, as in the photo on the left. This species has the distinguishing features of having noticeable larger and redder hind legs and a long narrow waist. I have no idea what species the mating ichneumon wasps are on the right, but I have included it here as I haven't come across this strange mating position in insects before. It is slightly reminiscent of the damselfly mating wheel, but the male here is not clasping the female's neck but curving his abdomen underneath him. Weird, but as ever, wonderful.

Ichneumon Wasp

Another beautiful ichneumon wasp, but unfortunately one I can’t identify for the life of me.  It clearly has orange legs, a black pterostigma on each wing and white triangular markings down its abdomen.  Florin Feneru at the Natural History Museum has very helpfully told me that this ichneumon wasp is a species of the subfamily Tryphoninae, tribe Exenterini, but that it is difficult to tell from these photos what species it is.  And interestingly, I was also informed that this tribe comprises ectoparasitoids of sawfly larvae. 

Ichneumon Wasp (female) (Beside Mearns Road, Whitecraigs, South West Glasgow)

A tiny female ichneumon wasp less than a centimetre long, but with a beautiful long ovipositor and antennae.  So many ichneumons are black with some orange somewhere on their bodies that it is well neigh impossible to identify them.  This ichneumon appeared to have no stigmata (or pterostigma) on its wings.  The only distinguishing feature about this wasp is its white ring at the tip of its abodmen. Please let me know if you have any ideas about what species this may be.

Ichneumon Wasp (Rhyssa peruasoria) (Mull, Argyll)

This is an absolutely terrible photo, but I only had one shot at it before it flew off, never to be seen again. The only reason for including it is that it's one of the more distinctive ichneumon wasps and it is also the largest in Scotland and in fact Europe, growing up to 4cms in length. The female has an extremely long ovipositor which can add another 4cms onto its length. She uses her ovipositor (which is no thicker than a human hair) to drill into wood and parasitise the larvae of horntails which it somehow manages to pinpoint through the wood. The wasp larvae then eats its host - what a way to begin! I can't even tell whether this is a female but both the male and the female of this ichneumon wasp have a black body with yellow or white spots and stripes and red legs which if you expand the photo enough (and you can stand the blurriness) you may just about make out.

Ichneumon wasp cocoon (Hyposoter)(Beside White Cart Water, just west of Pollok House, Glasgow)

Oh how gruesome the insect world can be! You may be thinking that this doesn't look much like an ichneumon wasp in the making - and you'd be right - this black and white stripy looking cocoon has not simply been spun by an ichneumon wasp. This is in fact a parasitised caterpillar. The female adult ichneumon lays an egg inside the caterpillar with her ovipositor (see above). When the larva hatches from the egg it feeds on and lives in its host caterpillar. When the larva eventually eats the caterpillar's vital organs, the caterpillar mummifies. The mummified caterpillar looks like a bird dropping, presumably to deter predators from eating it. The ichneumon larva then pupates inside the mummified caterpillar and eventually becomes an adult and eats its way out of the mummified caterpillar. There are some fantastic YouTube videos showing the whole process for those who feel Nightmare on Elm Street has become a bit tame. It is truly wonderful and terrible at the same time and is all happening for real right under our very noses.

Wood Ant (Formica rufa) (Abernethy Nature Reserve, near Loch Garten)

This really was a sight to behold. This massive domed anthill had what looked like thousands of ants crawling all over it, some of them hauling pines needles and other vegetation, some carrying large beetles, whilst many were just rushing around like there was no tomorrow. The ants also had routes leading in and out of mound, one of them going up a nearby tree. It is incredible to think that such tiny creatures are somehow able to co-ordinate themselves and work together to build this incredible labyrinth that apparently can contain up to half a million ants at any one time. These ants have black heads and abdomens and orange thoraxes. They have a fearsome bite and can spray formic acid from their rear ends when attacked.

Black Ant (Formica sp.)(possibly Formica lemani or similar) (garden, South West Glasgow)

It is difficult to identify these ants precisely.  They are probably Formica lemani but Formica fusca cannot be ruled out. Taking photos of the worker ants (as on the left) is farcical as you try and more your camera along at the same speed as their persistent marching.  The non-reproductive workers are blackish-brown in colour and covered in small hairs, which unfortunately don't show in these photos. Reproductive females and males are winged and almost twice as big as the workers and are darker in colour, as can be seen in the photo on the right. The reproductive ants mate in the air after which the male dies and the female loses her wings and starts a new colony. The queen ant in the photo on the bottom can be distinguished by their large size and the 'stumps' on her thorax where her wings were - although they are difficult to see from this photo.

Red Ant (Myrmica sp.) (possibly Myrmica scabrinodis or Myrmica sabuleti or similar) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

Again, it is difficult to identify this, but it is likely to be either Myrmica scabrinodis or Myrmica sabuleti. These common ants are rather attractive looking creatures that are red or pale brown in colour with the head a slightly darker shade.  It has a rather bristly body. It has a two-segmented waist which unfortunately cannot be seen in this photo.These ants are also known as the European fire ant and are agressive creatures preferring to attack than run away from danger.  When  I held the leaf to get a better shot, it started making a bee-line for my finger which I quickly removed before I was in a position to describe in detail how the sting actually felt. I hope you appreciate this shot none-the-less as I got bitten to death by midges trying to get it!