Little Black Ants
Little Black Ant Scientific Name: Monomorium minimum
All about the Little Black Ant
These are the ants that are always ruining your picnic. They are, as the name suggests, little and black. The little black ant will scavenge after whatever human food it can find. It turns out that the little trail of tiny black ants from your picnic basket are just that – tiny black ants! Worker ants are about 1/16 of an inch long, with the much larger queen 1/8 of an inch. Antennae are separated into twelve segments with two-segmented pedicel. Little black ants have unevenly rounded bodies, and queens and males bear wings.
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Where does the little black ant live, and what does it eat?
The little black ant is a native species found throughout the U.S. Numbers are most concentrated to southern California, the San Francisco Bay, and east coast.
These ants may nest considerable distances from feeding sites. Colonies are moderate to large in size, containing two or more reproductive queens. Swarms of little black ants are common during the summer months when reproductive females are in search of a mate; she may leave if her colony has become overpopulated. The little black ant will nest just about anywhere, but are commonly found nesting in cracks in cement, crevices or cracks in wood structures, rotting logs, lawns, or even out in the open. This ant species will also nest indoors, as it feeds on human foods. Inside you may see the little black ant nesting in holes in wood materials, in walls, or in the cracks between carpet and walls.
The Little black ant prefers high-protein foods like meat but eats pretty much anything it can find: sweets, vegetables, greasy or oily foods, and corn meal. Its diet may also include the honeydew of 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 little black ant. The little black ant will actively forage after any food items indoors. It may also eat living or dead insects. The Little black ant is a predator, scavenger, and forager and will search for food night and day.
How long will the typical little black ant live?
Mating occurs when the winged queen ants fly away to start a new colony. Both queen and male little black 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. Little black ant pupa may take as little as ten days 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 little black ants bear wings, but the female will shed her wings after mating and the male dies soon after.
Little black ants and Humans
Though the nests of the little black ant are built underground, the entrances to their nest are seen as a small dome, which can be destructive for lawns and gardens. The colonies of the little black ant can become extremely widespread and the ant has such a short pupation cycle that ant numbers increase very rapidly. By the end of the summer a single ant colony may contain as many as 2000 ants, with several colonies joined together forming supercolonies of as many as 10000 individuals. The little black ant will readily venture indoors, and may even nest indoors, in order to have a constant food supply.
This ant is equipped with a stinger, but it is so tiny a "sting" from the little black ant is rarely felt, and does not inflict any pain or wound.
How are little black ant bites treated?
If the little black ant does sting, it is typically not painful and does not exhibit any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, however, positive identification of the species should be done immediately. Apply an antibiotic ointment and ice to the affected area.
The Little black ant is considered a very serious pest, and if left unchecked can grow to be a big problem. 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 little black ant infestation, but if it has become too big of a problem for you to handle on your own, consider professional help.