Abstract: Winkler litter extraction is a commonly used collecting technique for sampling arthropods from leaf litter in forested areas. We evaluated the efficiency of the Winkler method for extracting ants from temperate-forest litter for a typical extraction period of 72 h. The Winkler extraction was followed by hand-sorting sufficient to assure that no ants remained in the dry litter. We collected 7777 ants, from 31 species, of which 6511 were extracted with Winkler extractors during 72 h and an additional 1266 ants collected afterwards by hand sorting. Three days were sufficient to recover representatives of all ant species from the collected samples, with an average species extraction efficiency of 99%. The lack of significant differences in the number of observed and estimated species between the materials extracted after 72 h and the totals (including hand-sorted material) suggests that three days of extraction are sufficient to obtain an unbiased estimate of the local ant species richness. Winkler extraction also was efficient in terms of the number of individuals extracted with an average of 91% of the individuals, present in the collected samples, extracted during the 72 h period. As a result, an extraction time of 72 h allowed for valid and unbiased estimates of the structure and the composition of the local ant community. Thus, the 72 h Winkler litter extraction is a rapid and efficient way of collecting ants in temperate forest areas.