As experts in pest control in Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire, we are gearing up for the annual increase in ant calls we get every spring. This is the time of year when hibernating ants begin to emerge from their nests in search of food. It is all about the natural life cycle that all ant colonies follow.
For the record, the most common ant in the UK is the black ant - also known as the garden ant. These are the ants we will focus on for this post. They are pretty much harmless for the most part, though they do need to be controlled when infestations get large enough to cause property damage. And of course, you do not want them in your house either.
Pharaoh, Ghost, and Argentine ants represent some of the more exotic species now found here in the UK. They require much more aggressive control due to the amount of damage they can cause. Needless to say they are invasive species.
Black Ants in the Spring
A strong colony of ants can make it through the winter without much problem. Ants are particularly good at hibernating. Moreover, a strong colony can last two or three years without issue. So once a colony is established, it can be extremely difficult to control.
When spring arrives it's time for the queen to begin laying eggs. First though, she mates with sexually productive males during a swarm. This is the only reason black ants swarm, and a typical swarm doesn't last more than a couple of hours. It concludes with the sexually productive males dying off and the queen going to lay her eggs.
Larva is fed mainly through saliva excreted by the female ants until it reaches pupa stage. Worker ants take over at that point. That's why black ants are seen in such large numbers during the spring. They are out foraging for food to both nurture pupa to maturity and provide enough food to keep the rest of the colony going.
Black Ants in Your House
The search for food is the universal draw that causes worker ants to leave the nest. So if you see black ants in your home, it's because they are searching for food. Also note that ants prefer sugary foods. They will gravitate to things like table sugar, cakes, crisps, pastries, breads, and sweet fruits.
Once a worker ant finds a good source of food, it sends out signals to draw other ants to the food source. Before long you will see the trail of ants coming and going until the food source is depleted. This phenomenon is normally what attracts the attention of homeowners.
Common black ants can be controlled if they become problematic on your property. Again, we understand you do not want them in your home. Outside however, they can cause problems with landscaping, patios, pathways, and the like. The best means of control when necessary is with traditional chemical insecticides.
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