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: Richard Becker

Richard Becker is a farmer, photographer and naturalist with a lifetime interest in natural history, particularly insect behaviours. He is an expert in aculeate hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), with a particular passion for ants. As a professional photographer, Richard specialises in photographing invertebrates and supplies images to several international agencies. His photographs have been used in publications worldwide. Formerly a dairy farmer in Sussex, since 2000 he has been working an organic beef farm in the hills of Powys, mid-Wales.

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 Preston Montford

FSC Preston Montford, Montford Bridge, Shrewsbury SY4 1DX

Direct enquiries: 01743 852040 (Mon-Fri, 9am–5pm)

  • By Road: From the A5, take the roundabout exit signposted to Mid-Wales and Welshpool (A458). One mile along this road, turn right onto B4473, we are located on the left after approx ½ mile.
  • By Bus or Train: Shrewsbury stations.

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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