The Garden Ant (Lasius Niger) is by far the most commonly encountered species of ant in the United Kingdom. It has a black, dark brown or red/brown segmented body of approximately 4mm length. The Queen is brown and upward of 10mm length. The Pharaoh Ant (Monomorium Pharaonis) is also occasionally found in the UK in institutions such as hospitals and prisons. It is yellow in colour and at 2mm in length is significantly smaller than the garden ant.<
Biology and Habitat :
Ants are socially complex insects living in colonies in large nests. One or more queen will lay the eggs and feed the larvae which develop into fertile males, sterile females (workers) and fertile females. The worker ants are responsible for building the nest; usually outdoors in walls, under paving stones, in flower beds and under grass. Workers leave the nest on foraging expeditions to gather nectar from flowers and sugary solutions produced by aphids but their attraction to sweet foods also causes them to invade houses and other premises through doorways, windows and gaps in brickwork and foundations.
From mid July mature male ants may develop wings and pursue females emerging from the nest causing 'plagues' of flying ants. Having mated on the wing, the unfortunate male will quickly die, whilst the female will lose her wings and survive by burying herself in the ground for the winter before founding new colonies in the spring.
As a consequence of foraging activities garden ants often appear indoors in great numbers; this is unpleasant and unacceptable to most people. However, garden ants neither carry germs nor do they spread disease and hence their presence does not constitute a risk to health.
Endeavour to identify how the ants are gaining entry into the building and seal the point(s) with cement mortar or mastic.
Trace the ant's back to the nest, which should be dug up and large quantities of boiling water applied. When the area has dried this should be followed by the application of an insecticide, preferably a powder, obtainable from garden centres, etc.
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