Small Black Ant Lasius niger


Family Formicidae (Ants) » Lasius niger (Linnaeus, 1758)
Length of worker 3-5 mm, queen 7-9 mm. A uniformly dark brown ant which has a single, scale-like waist segment. Similar to Lasius platythorax, which is found in different habitats and is not generally seen in gardens or near human habitation. The Small Black Ant goes through four stages of development, from egg to larva, cocoon, and finally adult. It has a complex social order, with a worker caste and a queen. A mature ant colony may contain the queen and between 4,000 to 7,000 female workers. The Small Black Ant does not not sting or spray formic acid like some other species of ant do. Winged females and males may be seen in large numbers during mating swarms. Soon after mating the males die, where the females shed their wings and establish new colonies. It harvests aphids for their sweet honeydew by stroking them with its antennae. It also protect aphids from predation, which does not go down well with gardeners in general. It will also feed on ripe fruits such a strawberries and raspberries, and will eat other invertebrates. Mating swarms occur in August during hot and humid weather. Found almost anywhere, in tree stumps and under logs, and under stones and paving in gardens where they build their nests in the soil. It can also make its way into houses on food raiding expeditions where it may become a pest. Abundant and widespread throughout Britain, it is the most seen ant in the UK.


Small Black Ant Lasius niger & Brown Soft Scale Coccus hesperidum
Black Garden Ant Lasius niger queen
Black Garden Ant Lasius niger queen
Small Black Ant Lasius niger & Brown Soft Scale Coccus hesperidum
Black Garden Ant Lasius niger queen
Small Black Ant Lasius niger & Brown Soft Scale Coccus hesperidum

All taken in back garden, South Staffordshire. Queen 25th July 2017. Worker on step 16th May 2021. Worker with Brown Soft Scale Coccus hesperidum 2nd June 2021. Worker with Small Willow Aphid Aphis farinosa 8th June 2021. Nuptial flight 4th August 2021. Photos © Peter Hillman.