This residential course incorporates everything you need to know to be able to accurately identify and record British ants to species.

With a mix of classroom presentations, laboratory-based sessions, and field-based activities our expert tutors will guide you through the lifestyles, ecology, and morphology of UK ants. Attendees will be provided with detailed information on sampling equipment and techniques with practical hands-on opportunities to collect live specimens.

Attendees will use preserved specimens from our tutor’s teaching collection for identification to species-level using microscopes and identification keys, and our tutors will demonstrate best practices for creating your very own reference collection.

Information on ant recording, submitting records and connecting with schemes, societies and groups will also be provided.

  • Certificate upon course completion.
  • Access to microscopes, specimen collection, lab equipment, field equipment and identification resources.
  • Tuition from tutors specialising in terrestrial invertebrates.
  • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.
  • Please note that this course will involve collecting, killing and preserving invertebrate specimens.

This course is aimed at adults only and course attendees must be at least 18 years old in order to attend.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • have a grounding in Britain’s ant taxonomy and subfamilies
  • be able to use external (morphological) features for specimen identification
  • have used various collecting techniques for a variety of habitats and species
  • gain practical experience using field guides and identification keys to determine specimens accurately to species-level
  • gain practical experience observing ant ID features using a microscope
  • know how to curate your own personal reference collection
  • be given guidance on how to take your interest further and contribute to associated recording schemes

Tutor: Mike Fox

Mike Fox is the ant record manager for the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS). He has studied ants for many years and is a national expert in identifying the 60 odd different British species of ants. He verifies ant records for the online naturalists' recording website iRecord. He writes regularly for the BWARS newsletter and has been published in the peer reviewed BENHS journal.

Tutor: Gino Brignoli

Gino is an active invertebrate recorder in London’s green spaces, with a particular interest in the ecologies of urban insects.

He has worked as a freelance field surveyor on behalf of the Forestry Commission; researched ant ecology and evolution, and taught entomology field techniques whilst employed as a Research Assistant at Queen Mary University of London. With a keen interest in ecology and entomology, Gino studied an MSc in Ecology and Evolution from Queen Mary and a BSc in Biodiversity and Conservation from Birkbeck College, University of London.

He has also previously volunteered with the Lepidoptera department and Soil Biodiversity Group at the Natural History Museum, and on the Thorn to Orchid and Water for Wildlife projects with the London Wildlife Trust. He now coordinates the BioLinks courses in London.

Course Fees

Resident (Sole Occupancy) £50.00

Course fees are subsidised by the FSC BioLinks project. Accommodation, meals and all course-related materials are included. If attendees who have booked together require a shared room please contact the centre to arrange this.

Please note that bathrooms may be shared and we are unable to guarantee en-suite bathrooms for any bookings.

Waiting List

If the course is full and you would like to be added to the waiting list, please email us at [email protected]g and let us know the name, date and location of the course you'd like to be added to the waiting list for.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Certificate upon course completion.
  • Access to microscopes, specimen collection, lab equipment, field equipment and identification resources.
  • Tuition from tutors specialising in ants.
  • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.
  • Please note that this course will involve collecting, killing and preserving ants.

Bursaries and Subsidies

FSC BioLinks

FSC BioLinks is an exciting project for FSC in the South East and West Midlands, bringing together existing volunteers with skills in biological recording and identification, and new volunteers.

This project provides subsidised training courses, learning opportunities and digital tools focussed on invertebrate identification for anyone involved or interested in biological recording, to build and strengthen the community.

Invertebrates provide us with many useful ecosystem services, like pollination and decomposition, which we cannot survive without but their numbers are declining. Few people know how to identify or record invertebrates meaning there is a lack of data.

We are delighted to have been awarded a grant of £1.23 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this project.

Before You Attend

Getting to FSC Juniper Hall

FSC Juniper Hall, Old London Rd, Mickleham, RH5 6DA
Direct enquiries: 01306 734501 (Mon-Fri, 9am–5pm) or email [email protected]

Public Transport

Train: Dorking Station (1.6 miles) – regular trains from London ( Victoria and Waterloo) and Horsham. Taxis are readily available outside the main station. Dorking Deepdene (1.6 miles) – trains from Reading, Guildford, Gatwick, Redhill and Reigate stop at Dorking Deepdene station. Box Hill and Westhumble (1 mile).

Bus: The 465 service runs between Dorking (opposite the main train station) to Kingston upon Thames and stops just outside the centre.

Road: From the north: From the junction 9 of the M25 take the A24 towards Dorking. After the Givons Grove roundabout turn left to continue on the A24 south towards Dorking for approximately 1 mile and then take the B2209 left into the village of Mickleham. Go through the village past the Church and the Running Horses pub and continue for about ½ mile. The entrance to Juniper Hall is on the left hand side immediately after Headley Lane. Please note that there is no entrance to the centre from Headley Lane. From the south: Join the A24 and head north towards Leatherhead. Go straight over Denbighs Vineyard roundabout and at the next roundabout (Burford Bridge) turn right towards Box Hill and Mickleham. Continue past the Burford Bridge Hotel and the turning for Box Hill and up a small hill. As you go over the top of the hill the centre is at the bottom of the hill on the right hand side.

What to bring

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear for outdoor activity
  • Your own copy of Ants (Naturalists' Handbooks 24) by Skinner and Allen if you have it (so that you can make notes)
  • Pooter (if you have one)
  • Hand lens (if you have one)

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical requirements please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

Check-in & Check-out

  • Check-in on the first day will be between 16:00 and 18:00 - if you need a later check-in, please contact the centre to notify them in advance
  • Check-out on the final day will be at 09:30. We will arrange somewhere secure to store your luggage for the remainder of the day.
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