Black garden ants are the most commonly seen ants in Britain, building nests under garden stones and paving slabs, as well as occasionally turning up in our houses in the summer. However, they are probably most famous for their mating flights, when swarms of winged queens and reproductive males take to the skies during the hot and humid summer weather. The males subsequently die but the queens go on to establish new colonies. These small black ants are abundant in North America, Europe and parts of Asia and enjoy a varied diet from fruit to insects.
Did you know?
Black garden ants “milk” aphids; when prompted, aphids excrete sugar-filled honeydew in return for protection.
Scientific name: Lasius niger
Small black ant
Ants tend aphids like a shepherd tends his sheep.
David Attenborough looks at aphids and their relationship with ants in a garden. The ants protect the aphids from a predatory ladybird.
The following habitats are found across the Black garden ant distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
The black garden ant (Lasius niger) is a formicine ant, the type species of the subgenus Lasius, found all over Europe and in some parts of North America and Asia. The European species was split into two species; L. niger is found in open areas, while L. platythorax is found in forest habitats. It is monogynous, meaning colonies have a single queen.
Lasius niger colonies can reach in size up to around 15,000 workers but 4,000–7,000 is around average. A Lasius niger queen can live for around 12 years.
Lasius niger is host to a number of temporary social parasites of the Lasius mixtus group including Lasius mixtus and Lasius umbratus.
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