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Black garden ant

Insect

Lasius niger

These insects are black or dark brown and nest in soil, lawns, at the base of walls or under flat stones. Ants are social insects; they live in colonies that consist mainly of workers – sterile, wingless females. 

In July and August, winged males and females emerge for mating flights. They are about twice the size of the workers. Climatic conditions determine when these flying ants appear, and all the nests in any one area will generally erupt at the same time. 

After mating, the males die, while females shed their wings and seek suitable nesting sites. Birds take many ants during these mating flights and only a few females (queens) survive to start new colonies.

What does it eat?

Feeds on anything, especially if sweet. These ants 'milk' (stroke) aphids for their honeydew. When an ant finds food, it lays a scent (pheromone) trail to its nest for other workers to follow.

When will I see it?

During the summer months. Flying ants in July and August.

Where will I see it?

Throughout the garden, but often in paving cracks.

Vital statistics

Length: workers are up to 5 mm

Calendar

Not seen in JanuaryNot seen in FebruaryNot seen in MarchNot seen in AprilSeen in MaySeen in JuneSeen in JulySeen in AugustSeen in SeptemberSeen in OctoberNot seen in NovemberNot seen in December

Key to calendar