Pine tree en­thu­si­asts

The Scot’s pine trees act as vi­tal habi­tat and food source for a range of species

World of Animals - - Wildlife Of The Caledonian Forest -

Wood ants

The two species of wood ant that live in Scot­land are both mem­bers of the Formica fam­ily. They build huge domed nests out of pine nee­dles, which can be up to 1.5 me­tres (4.9 feet) high. Wood ants feed on other in­sects and also farm aphids for their hon­ey­dew.

Tim­ber­man bee­tles

Al­though tim­ber­man bee­tles are found through­out Europe, Rus­sia and Asia, they are rare in the UK and thought to live only in the Cale­do­nian For­est. They are usu­ally very hard to spot, but as they feed on dead wood they are some­times at­tracted to felled pine trunks.

Red squir­rel

Hav­ing suf­fered a se­vere de­cline else­where due to the ar­rival of their grey cousins, the red squir­rel is en­joy­ing a re­vival in the pine forests of Scot­land due to an in­crease in pine martens. While the lighter red squir­rels can evade them, the greys are not so fast and of­ten fall to the pine martens.

Scot­tish cross­bill

The UK’s only en­demic bird, the Scot­tish cross­bill is found in the Cale­do­nian For­est and some other ar­eas of na­tive and non-na­tive pine trees in north­ern Scot­land. Their bills are per­fectly de­signed to open pine cones, al­low­ing them to eat the seeds in­side.


Ospreys are faith­ful to their nest­ing sites and can re­turn to the same nest for up to two decades. Each year they add more nest­ing ma­te­rial, so the fi­nal nest can be as much as two me­tres (6.6 feet) deep and re­quire a very sturdy tree to sus­tain it. Large, ma­ture pine trees are of­ten a pre­ferred nest­ing op­tion.

Pine hov­er­fly

Thought to be one of the most en­dan­gered species in Scot­land, the pine hov­er­fly is found at only a cou­ple of sites. Their lar­vae re­quire very spe­cific con­di­tions to de­velop – liv­ing in the wa­ter-filled stumps of old Scot’s pine trees. The adult flies are less fussy and will feed on a wide range of leaves.

“Bears, wolves and lynx were all deemed a threat to peo­ple and wiped out at dif­fer­ent times”

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