General information


Common name

Black garden ant

Binomial nomenclature
Lasius niger

Taxonomy
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Genus: Lasius
Species: Lasius niger

Range
Common in Europe and some parts of North America and Asia. See antmaps.org.

Habitat
Abundant in gardens, streets and parks.

Nest
Nests in any soil.

Size
Monomorphic.
Workers: 3 – 5 mm
Queen: 9 mm
Males: 3,5 – 4,5 mm


Keeping and care


Difficulty
★☆☆☆☆
Very easy. Great species for beginners.

Behavior and description
No sting and too small to bite humans. Active and aggressive ants. Dark brown color.

Colony type
Secondary monogynous. It’s possible to found a colony through pleometrosis (multiple queens), but eventually they will fight and one queen will survive. Independent founding. Colony size up to a few thousand. Queen can live up to 20 years.

Queen capture
Capture unwinged queens after nuptial flight. Digging out a colony is not recommended because of the monogynous nature of the colony, making it almost impossible to find the queen.

Nuptial flight
July – August

Formicarium
Test tube setup for small colonies, ytong nests for large colonies, with a foraging area attached. Plaster and sand nests are possible, but less convenient. Plaster will mold and in sand their visibility is decreased.

Nest conditions
This species is not picky. Some humidity is required. Best is to offer a nest where one part has high humidity and one part has lower humidity, so they can choose. Can be kept at room temperature. They tolerate a wide range of temperatures, so heating is not required. Covering the nest to make it dark is recommended to reduce stress, but an uncovered nest will also do. Covering with red foil is to no avail, as Lasius niger can see red light.

Escape prevention
Fluon, talcum powder, paraffin oil. They tend to wipe off the talcum powder after a while.

Dormancy
Yes. A six-month dormancy from October to March is required. As a northern temperate species, Lasius niger needs cold reactivation for a rapid growth in spring, otherwise growth will stagnate. Stop feeding and slowly drop the temperature to 5 degrees Celcius (41 degrees Fahrenheit). Make sure the nest stays humid. During dormancy their metabolism is strongly minimized, so feeding is not required, but moist is. After dormancy, increase the temperature slowly to room temperature to avoid intoxication by built-up toxics due to the reduced metabolism.

Diet
Honeydew surrogate, sugar water, insects (e.g. fruit flies, crickets, Blaptica dubia).


Media

Lasius niger
April Nobile / © AntWeb.org / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Lasius niger
In the garden
Lasius niger
Queen with workers
Lasius niger
Larvae, pupae and workers


More information

AntWiki.org
AntWeb.org
AntMaps.org
Wikipedia


More caresheets


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5 thoughts on “Lasius niger: Caresheet

    1. I’m sorry, I don’t have any experience with that species. If you or anyone else could write a caresheet according to the template above, I wouldn’t mind adding it to the website (with credits of course).

    1. Depends on the temperature in your shed, if it gets below zero your ants will likely die. Around 5 degrees Celsius is acceptable.

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