Black Garden Ants – A Quick Guide

Black garden ants, Lasius niger, which are found in North America, parts of Asia, and Europe, are common ants. This specific type of ant is extremely hearty and can live in harsh environments. They are about 5 mm long.

How did black garden ants get their name?

They are so named because their colonies are often spotted in gardens but they are also present in many other environments including heathland and grassland habitats. Like many ant species, they set scent trails for each other to follow. These ant trails can often be seen as they cross paving stones in gardens.

What do garden ants eat?

They love sugary foods and given the opportunity will enter houses if sweet food is readily available. They also like the taste of honeydew which is produced by aphids as a by-product. Aphids aren’t a gardener’s best friend but ants will protect them in order to maintain a ready supply of honeydew.

Black garden ant
Black garden ant – Image by Sandeep Handa from Pixabay

Do black garden ants fly?

Black garden ants take nuptial flights at some point between June and September. The European variety of these species generally mate when it’s hot, like in July, while North American black garden ants tend to mate during the fall months. Thousands of these ants can be seen flying around so that they can go through the mating process. After mating, the males will die and the females lose their wings before establishing a new colony.

What does the new queen of a colony eat?

The queen can go weeks without eating. After the nuptial flights, the queen will choose a site to nest in beneath the soil. Once the queen settles into her place beneath the soil, she can survive without eating for some time. In fact, they won’t even eat until they have produced daughter workers themselves. Until then, they rely on their fat stores to help them have the strength to lay eggs. They can also get protein from the wing muscles that are no longer needed.

How long does the black garden ant queen live?

Queen ants have a much longer lifespan than their male counterparts. The queen doesn’t finish work after she has established her colony. She has to continually lay eggs to ensure the longevity of the colony. Black garden ants can potentially live up to 30 years, maybe longer. They live for decades. However, the workers will only live for nearly a year and male ants barely live longer than a week. Their sperm does live longer, which allows for the queen to keep producing more ants for the colony.

Are black garden ant workers male or female?

Many people only associate the queens as the females, but in general, most of the ants that you see are female. Ants have a very strict caste system where each ant must do their bit as part of the group. Worker ants are females who are responsible for the daily operations of the colony.

Are black garden ants aggressive?

This particular species of ants is actually very aggressive. These are also very active ants, always seemingly on the move. The good news is that even though this is an aggressive species of ants, they can’t actually hurt humans. Their mandibles are very weak and can’t hurt the skin. That’s why these ants are still considered to be harmless. However, their mandibles are perfect for getting juice from plants and other dead insects in order to get food.