Although these are called black garden ants, they can also be dark brown. Most are between 3 and 5mm long but the queen may be as long as 16mm. Reproductive males and females have wings, though the queen sheds her wings after laying eggs and males die shortly after mating.
Where does the black garden ant live, and what does it eat?
This ant is widespread across Europe, Asia, and the U.S.
True to its name, the black garden ant is fond of a garden habitat: often found under paving stones and bricks, but may also nest in the rotting wood of houses. The black garden ant has been known to nest in cracks in foundations then make its way into homes. Colonies of the black garden ant contain an average of 5,000 individuals, but may grown as large as 15,000.
The Black garden ant prefers sweet foods like ripe fruit, but also feeds on honeydew produced by aphids, and will even care for young aphids in order to harvest their honeydew. Other insects like mealybugs, whiteflies, and planthoppers are favorite sources of honeydew for the black garden ant. The black garden ant will actively forage after any food items, specifically greasy or sweet ones, indoors. It may also eat living or dead insects. The Black garden ant is a scavenger and forager and will search for food night and day.
How long will the typical black garden ant live?
Mating occurs when the winged queen ants fly away to start a new colony. Both queen and male black garden ants “swarm” around entrances to other colonies until fertilization takes place. Once it does, the fertilized queen will make her own nest and lay her eggs. Black garden ant pupae may take as little as eight but as long as 10 weeks to become fully grown. While pupating, the ant larvae are cared for and fed by the workers of the colony. Both the queen and male black garden ants bear wings, but the female will shed her wings after mating and the male dies soon after.
Black Garden Ants and Humans
Though they will shy away from human confrontation, the nesting and foraging habits of the black garden ant are a force to be reckoned with. A particular pest in the garden, the black garden ant encourages the appearance of aphids. Because it harvests aphids’ honeydew it often cares for this infamous garden pest. During summer months, when the colony is most active, the black garden ant may venture indoors in search of additional food sources for young ants. It will go after sweet and greasy foods, and its nest may even penetrate indoors from time to time if cracks or voids are left unsealed.
Professional Black Garden Ant Control
The black garden ant can become an extreme nuisance if nesting has taken place in or around your home. It is extremely important to keep black garden ant numbers in check and take any measures to eliminate them from your property. Contact a professional as soon as you see significant numbers or believe they are nesting indoors.
After identifying all the nesting sites possible, the nests of the ant will be drenched in insecticides containing fipronil, bifenthrin, or permethrin, in conjunction with granular baits. Drenching the nests will usually destroy the ant colony, but if necessary repeat until full extinction. Nests are located by following the trails of worker ants back to their colonies.
Bait: Baits are particularly effective for the black garden ant because they tend to carry their food from the source back to their nest. Professional baits can be purchased at the local grocery store.
Dust pesticides are applied to nest entrances with an active colony to cover a greater surface area. The use of DeltaDust is typically used because of its chemical mixture and waterproof substance.
It is always a safer bet letting a professional take care of your infestations, especially the larger ones; however, if you are a resourceful individual there are effective do-it-yourself methods to preventing infestation. The key thing to remember is that it is easier to nip the problem in the rear before it becomes a real issue. Here are some useful tips:
Food: Black garden ants LOVE food, especially human food, so keep the inside of your home free from spilled food. Like your mother always says, “Only eat in the kitchen,” and my personal favorite, “clean up after yourself!” It turns out mother was trying to prevent an ant infestation. Think of any spills or food left out as an enticement for the Black garden ant.
Snares: Traps can be helpful if the problem is widespread. You can purchase premade baits at the local store, and those are proven to be effective in most cases. Once the ants are gone, promptly remove the baits from your home. Baits are particularly effective for this species as they forage at some distance from their nest.
Keeping out: to prevent the entry of black garden ants, keep all entries into the home (doors and windows) nice and snug. If you are overly cautious use caulking to secure cracks and leakages in doors and windows, but don’t go too crazy. Black garden ants typically enter around the foundation of your home so focus on those areas. Lastly, there are natural deterrents such as: chili pepper, bay leaves, mint, cinnamon, peppermint, salt, pepper, and borax that can be used to stop ants from coming in. Spread any of these items along places you’ve seen the ants and cracks or other entrances to keep them out naturally.
Exterior Control: There are other outdoor pests that especially attract the Black garden ant so employ methods to control these bugs in order to keep it uninterested in your property. Keep landscape mulch at least a foot away from foundations and less than two inches thick. Make sure your sprinklers do not spray directly onto your foundation. This can sometimes cause home materials to rot which can make a soft spot for nesting. If you don’t believe in insecticides you can always pour boiling water on and around the entrances to Black garden ant nests. This obviously destroys the ants and the colony.
Liquid Insecticides There are certain liquid insecticides that are particularly effective at warding off pests. Remember that these chemical mixtures can be harmful so be sure to focus on and right around the ant hill. Keep children and pets away for the specified amount of time on the products label. There are “green” pesticides so consult with the employee at the local hardware store to determine the best one.
Call a Green Pest Control Service: If you do seek professional help make sure to patronize a company that uses green solutions. There are many companies that are certified with the “Green Shield Certification”, which is awarded by a non-profit organization that seeks to “go green.”
The Black garden ant is a very annoying pest when left unchecked. There nests are usually unobtrusive but when built indoors are extreme annoyances. Use of do-it-yourself pesticides may be all it takes to get rid of a small black garden ant infestation, but if it has become too big of a problem for you to handle on your own, consider professional help.