New colony of leafcutter ants arrive in St Albans

A class from a primary school in Essex welcome the arrival of the new ants

A class from a primary school in Essex welcome the arrival of the new ants - Credit: Archant

After the devastating demise of the biggest UK colony of leaf cutter ants, a new group have travelled all the way from Trinidad to take their place.

The new colony of 10,000 ants has been transported to Butterfly World in Chiswell Green, which lost a huge part of their colony earlier this year.

The previous ants suffered a shocking death when they bit through an electricity cable and electrocuted their queen, subsequently killing more than one million ants.

The ants have been brought over to the UK by expert Andrew Stephenson, who went over to Trinidad to find them.

He said: “As you can imagine it is not always easy. We spent days hunting for the queen through huge underground chambers.

“We then extract the ‘fungus garden’ that will provide their food and shelter for the journey before transporting around 10,000 ants back on the plane.

“And there are the occupational hazards- their powerful jaws tear our hands to pieces, leaving them dripping with blood!”

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People were invited to officially welcome the ants on Monday (14), with free ant-themed face paint for all who came.

Ecologist at Butterfly World, Louise Hawkins, said: “In the four years they were here, they were one of out most popular exhibits, even though they were always getting into mischief and have escaped more than once. We are now so pleased to welcome these ants into their new home.”

Entry to Butterfly World costs between £5.50 - £7.50, or £22.50 for a family ticket, and Under 3s get in for free.