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27 November 2014

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You are in: Derby > Features > General Features > Potter ponders giant anthill

Wood ants

Potter ponders giant anthill

BBC Radio Derby's Andy Potter finds out how a huge ant hill in North Derbyshire could be a major clue as to where 'The North' begins.

Foresters in Derbyshire think they've found a new answer to the age old question - where does the north really start?

What's thought to be the most southerly population of the Hairy Northern Wood Ants is currently residing in Shining Cliff Wood near Ambergate.

Albin Smith with the huge anthill

Albin Smith with the huge ant hill

Dozens of ant hills - some measuring as high as three-feet are dotted around the forest.

The ants measure up to a centimetre in length and can spit formic acid to defend themselves if they feel threatened.

They build enormous cone-shaped nests to keep warm with a southerly view to catch the most southerly rays of the sun.

Forester Albin Smith said: "We think this is the most southern extent of its habitat in England so this is whether the north begins!

"It's Britain's biggest ant. They are carnivorous and they take in the sun rays outside so they can go back inside and warm the nest. There are millions in this wood.

"This forest has got loads of these nests but not many as big as this one. Of course there could be bigger ones we've not found yet."

Anyone visiting one of the huge nests is advised to be careful and asked to show respect to the ant colonies.

last updated: 28/09/07

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