The Lasius Niger, more commonly known to us all as the black garden ant or black ant, is by far the most common ant species across Europe and especially in the United Kingdom. It is a very fast-moving ant, very active and with lots of energy.
Identification: Garden Ants are usually nesting outdoors in lawns & flower beds, at the base of walls and beneath paving stones and paths. Properties are usually invaded by the worker ants foraging for food, especially sweet foods. When food has been located by one ant, there will soon be others as they deposit a pheromone to show the others where to go and a trail of worker ants will take food back to the nest.
Biology: During the summer, the large, winged females (Queens) and smaller males leave the nest on one or two warm afternoons and take flight. It is during this flight the ants mate. The formation of a new colony then begins its transformation with a mated winged female digging into the earth to produce a new cell. Here she will start to lay a large number of eggs which hatch after 3 – 4 weeks into white legless grubs. The Queen takes on the role of feeding them on nourishing secretions from her salivary glands and the pupae develop in less than two weeks to adult ants. This it the new queen’s first generation of ants, all of which consist of worker ants. ; this first generation will consist entirely of worker ants. These ants then tend to the Queen by bringing a range of food materials into the nest. From here the journey begins as the Queen continues to increase the size of the colony with different ants having different roles to play.
Control: For complete eradication it is paramount to destroy the nests rather than just the foraging ants. Treating these forging ants will only bring down numbers slightly and maybe for a few weeks but will not control the long-term issue. If possible, trace the trail of worker ants to the nest. The openings to a nest can often be identified by small piles of fine earth being brought up from underground. If the nest can be exposed, apply an insect powder or spray labelled for that use. If it is not possible to trace the nest, then an insecticidal spray labelled for the control of crawling insects can be applied to treat outside the building and the ground around likely entry points such as door frames, air bricks and waste pipes which will help create an insecticidal barrier. This same insecticide may be used indoors where ants have been found wandering.
The application should form a continuous band around wall/floor junctions, taking care not to contaminate food or food preparation surfaces with insecticide.
The most effective methods are gel baits which are supplied as or applied in bait stations using a gel gun and gel bait tube specifically for ants. The worker ants will be attracted to the toxic bait, take it back to their nest and share it with the others in the nest, most importantly the Queen.. After several days there should be a reduction in numbers of foraging ants, but it may take a couple of weeks to be fully effective.
Popular products to control Black Garden Ants:
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