|Walking to Antsville|
Ant hills are a quite common site throughout the Coed-y-Brenin.
Not just measly little mounds, but more akin to say ant palaces
where 'the queen' and her fairly hefty underlings or wood ants,
to be more precise, like to make their home. (Well they're still
only tiny, but say double the size of a normal ant).|
In the winter months, there is little evidence of them at all. But come spring and the warmer days of summer, it's quite fun to watch long columns of worker ants weave in and out, between each other, on the outer fringes of several of the forest's lanes and roadways.
It's seems that there's a whole other world out there. Every ant seems to have a task and knows what he or she is meant to be doing. Whether it's carrying scraps of leaves, twigs or any other amount of detritus they seem to hold most dear, several things are always constant: a sense of urgency and a momentum to continue doing, whatever it is that they are doing, and of course working. There is no rest or play.
Perhaps the survival of the colony is all. They never stop moving. There doesn't seem to be any among them harbouring idle grasshopper tendencies at all. There's no singing all summer, as the vain grasshopper did in the fable of old, and then finding there was nothing to eat for winter. The ants were of course busy working all summer in the fairy tale, and it's just work, work, work from sun up to sun down in the real world too.
While out walking in some places, it's worth considering that, if you accidentally move too far to the side of the road, you could literally be wiping out whole generations.
The ants cleverly merge in to the dark blacks and greys of the road surface, which might protect them from predatory birds and so forth, but unfortunately, there will be a fair few casualties, if a car drives past or a walker isn't watching where they're going.
To see these truly amazing, natural wonders, all you need to do is literally hit the road. Follow the tarmac road from Glyn-yr-Aur and pass the undulating hillside, and sections of pine forest, until you come to a short incline (about a mile). After a short, steep descent, you will come to a relatively flat piece of road that would perhaps be better known as 'Antsville Avenue'.
At first, you might not be able to discern anything at all because they are so well hidden. But if you look closely again, you will see that there are literally hundreds of ants scurrying along, all working frenetically to get their day's work done.
There seem to be around 5 main (50 yards apart) ant citadels in the undergrowth at the side of the road. It's difficult to know who lives at which address. Perhaps they all just 'hot-desk' or have friends over to stay. But it's certainly a phenomenon that's very entertaining and interesting to watch. They're not known to be harmful and there are no records of them hurting anyone (As a confirmed arachnophobe and creepy-crawly hater, these are some of the most polite and well-behaved insects around). But, if you're walking or driving along this short section of road, it's perhaps a good idea, as said before, to keep well away from the kerb. Whole battalions of foot soldiers could come to an untimely end if you don't.
To complete this short walk, you can just make your way to the end of the flat section of road, and then retrace your steps.
Or second, you can head down a very steep section of road towards the Dolfrwynog Tea Garden (see link). And after a well earned rest, you can make the mammoth ascent, or ring a friend to pick you up.
Just how big can these mounds be? Further into the forest hidden away from casual onlookers are much larger mounds. Mounds of a metre or more are relatively common. Discovered in a recently clear felled area was the following 2 metre high monster.
Surprisingly the ants were active on this sunny day (February 9th 2008)