Ants

Common Black Ants do not bite or sting and have not been known to transmit any diseases. They can, however, cause a nuisance in the home particularly in the kitchen where they may damage food and cause unsightly trails between their nest and a food source.

Habitat

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The Common Black Ant is an inhabitant of virtually every garden, living largely unnoticed in lawns or under rocks and paving slabs. On occasions however, ants may become established indoors where they live under floorboards in cavities or behind fixtures such as gas fires, fitted cupboards, skirting boards, etc. Nests may survive for many years, but new ones are established each year by new queens leaving the nest as ‘flying ants’.

Ants are social insects and several thousand may be present in a large nest. Worker ants build and extend the nest, look after the young and forage for food. The queen ant which is much larger than the worker remains in the nest, her sole duty being to lay eggs. Ants feed on sweet substances such as plant nectar and the sticky secretions produced by aphids or greenfly (honeydew). In the home they are attracted to sugary foods such as jam and confectionery. In late June or September, flying ants are produced in the nest. These are winged fertile males and females which emerge in large numbers on hot afternoons. On leaving the nest they swarm for 2 – 3 hours to mate, during which time the males die and some of the fertilised females lose their wings and seek out new nesting sites.

Ant nests are often difficult to locate and inaccessible for control. Look for trails of workers and follow them back to the nest. Open up the nest and treat it and the immediate vicinity with insecticide. Ant killer powder is available in hardware stores, garden centres and most supermarkets. Please read the instructions thoroughly and follow them exactly. Ant stations are also useful, although slow acting, will eliminate the whole nest. The ants carry the bait back to the nest and in most cases will take several weeks to eradicate the colony.

If you are unhappy using chemicals yourself contact a suitably qualified pest contractor and obtain several quotes. Ants are normally harmless and control should only be considered if they are causing a serious nuisance inside the home.