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Common Ant Species
Garden Ant (Lasius niger)
Typical worker ants are 3-4mm long of a brown/black colour with elbowed antennae and biting mouth parts. The queen ant tends to be much larger at about 10mm. Garden Ants usually nest outdoors in lawns, flower beds, beneath paving flags and at the base of walls. Premises are usually invaded by worker ants foraging for food, especially sweet foods. During summer, winged females (Queens) and males leave the ants nest on one or two warm afternoons and take flight. During this flight, which may only last for 2- 3 hours, the ants mate. The formation of a new colony starts with a mated winged female digging into the earth over winter and start a new colony in the spring.
Pharaoh’s Ant (Monomorium pharaonis)
The pharaoh’s ant is a small ant of tropical origin. The workers are only 2mm long, the queen 5mm long and both are yellow in colour. The ant has a characteristic double segmented waist and a darkened tip to the abdomen.
In temperate climates it is an indoor species, associated particularly with large facilities such as hospitals, prisons and blocks of flats. Unlike some other ant species, the queen may be replaced by other queens. This is an important feature to bear in mind during control, as new queens can be produced when needed resulting in colonies which are able to split.
A thorough survey is highly recommended. Pharaohs Ants are most often found in areas near a source of moisture such as a kitchen or bathroom.
Ghost Ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum)
The Ghost Ant is sometimes called the Black-Headed Ant. This ant is very small at about 1.5mm, with a dark head and thorax. The pale coloured, almost translucent abdomen and legs, in addition to its tiny size, gives the ghost ant its name.
Although having only arrived in the UK in the last few years (most likely in luggage from holidaymakers from the USA), and still relatively rare, the Ghost Ant is spreading quickly, particularly in large housing developments. The Ghost Ant colony can be moderate to large in size, containing thousands of workers and numerous queens. The colony is usually divided into sub-colonies; this is because the areas where Ghost Ants prefer to build nests are usually too small to house their huge numbers. Different Ghost Ant colonies do not attack one another and will even integrate with their neighbouring ghost ants. Ghost Ants have a preference for sweet foodstuffs. Outdoors they feed on the honeydew from aphids and mealy bugs; indoors they will seek out sugar, sweets, syrup, honey and jam.
Talk to your local NBC branch for advice or to arrange a survey by calling 0333 567 2020.