Both the Black Ant (Lasius Niger) and Pharaoh’s Ant (Monomorium Pharaonis) have four stages of distinction within its life cycle which are the Egg, the Larvae, the Pupae and an Adult.
- A colony of Black Ants is started by a mated winged female that burrows into the earth placing her eggs in a cell. Eggs then go through the maturity stages (taking approximately 8-9 weeks) before turning to adults and becoming workers. The queen then repeats the process whilst workers expand the colony and carry out other tasks. Its within the summer season that mating takes place between winged males and females in large numbers (possibly from multiple nests) causing a swarming effect, then coming to rest in multiple locations for new queens to repeat the birth cycle.
- A colony of Pharaoh’s Ants can be started by and contain multiple queens which all lay eggs which go through the maturity stages (taking approximately 5-10 weeks depending on temperatures) before turning to adults and becoming workers. This species has similar behaviour patterns within a colony but do not mate on the wing though they do have wings. This species is commonly found in heated dwellings or heated ducting in the UK.
Both species are capable of producing 1000’s of brood within a colony if not tens of 1000’s amongst satellite colonies in a garden or a property causing severe distress amongst occupants and homeowners which is why swift action is recommended before the problem can spiral out of control.
Identifying a Infestation
There are generally two ways one identifying an Ant infestation which are listed below:
The easiest way of determining an infestation is multiple or continuous sightings of ants internally or externally. Its best advised not to dismiss an infestation just because only some were sighted. A thorough check should be carried out by if not yourself, than a specialist.
Internally, this may be in the form of sawdust around window and door frames or grout dust from floor tiles or window tiles. Externally, this may be multiple soil mounds on the lawn or small sand mounds on the edges of patio tiles.
Identifying an Ant
In relation to a physical sighting of Ants, their physical appearance is one of a six legged insect with short antennae and three sections to their body. They will vary in colour and size depending on species and sex.
Below are some of the species you would find within or around a UK premises (though there are other species of ants that are less frequently seen not on this list):
- Black Ants (Lasius Niger) – A dull black ant and are approximately 2-5 mm in size (queens are approximately 12mm in size). They are more commonly found within a garden or beneath paving stones and less commonly found within a premises unless mating swarms occur.
- Pharaoh’s Ants (Monomorium Pharaonis) – This ant has a pale yellow upper body with a dark abdomen and are approximately 1-2 mm in size (queens are approximately 4-5mm in size). They thrive in areas of high temperature (Kitchens, Air-Ducts, Well Heated Rooms).
- Ghost Ants (Tapinoma Melanocephalum) – This ant has pale antennae, legs and lower body whilst the rest of the body is black. They are approximately 1.3 – 1.5mm in size and are similar to Pharaoh’s ants in that they thrive in areas of high temperature (Kitchens, Air-Ducts, Well Heated Rooms).
- Argentine Ants (Iridomyrmex Humilis) A dull or shinny brown ant throughout the body and are approximately 2.5mm in size. Similar habitual habits as the Pharaoh’s Ant.
- Crazy Ant (Paratrichina Longicornis) – These ants are a rare sight in the UK and are dark brown in colour with distinctive white hair across their body. They are approximately 2-3mm in size and are an external ant that resides in soil, plant cavities, rotten wood and general cover.
- Big Head Ant (Pheidole Megacephala) – These ants have heads that are relatively the same size as their bodies. They are yellowish to light-brown in colour and approximately 2-3mm in size. They are rarely found in the UK and commonly reside in soil or rotting wood entering buildings seeking food.
- Rodger’s Ant (Hypoponera punctatissima) – This ant is dark yellow-brown in colour with dense hair across its surface. Being of tropical origin, they are approximately 2-3mm in size and in Britain are found infesting permanently heated environments (Conservatories, Bakeries and Hotels). They reside in damp soil residue and may also be found in areas where moisture is plentiful (drains, toilets, etc).
Excessive activity may be seen externally around ant mounds which are the main entrances to their colonies. Internally they may be seen around the parameters of a skirting, window frame, door frame and worktop walking individually or in a convoy, particularly in a kitchen where temperatures may be higher.