Appearance and Habits

There are many species of ant, the commonest of which is the black garden ant.

The black ant varies in size from 3-4mm long for a worker ant and 15mm long for a queen.

They are dark to mid brown in colour and have a distinctive “waist”.

Ants will nest in a variety of places, but generally prefer areas which have sandy soils or under

paving stones. They are also often found in lawns.

They usually cause little trouble unless the worker ants invade property looking for food. They

are particularly attracted to sweet foods, so can often be found in kitchens and pantries.

Life Cycle

The formation of a new nest begins with a mated female digging into the earth and laying a

large number of white eggs. Legless larvae hatch 3-4 weeks later. The larvae are fed on

secretions from the queen’s salivary glands until fully grown. They then pupate, forming the

well known “ant eggs”. From these pupae emerge the first group of worker ants. These

workers take over looking after future broods and foraging for food. They can also be seen

transporting eggs and pupae if the nest has been disturbed. In the late summer winged

sexually mature males and large females will emerge from the nest in large numbers forming a

swarm. This is often seen in the afternoons simultaneously across large areas and usually

lasts for 2-3 hours. Once they have mated the males quickly die. A small proportion of the

mated females survive to start new nests.

Treatment and Control

If ants are coming into a property it is important to try to find their point of entry and seal it.

This can often be around window or doorframes where there are cracks or gaps. A risidual insecticide could also be used to kill any ants passing over the treated surfaces.