Black garden ant
Species: Lasius niger
Common in Europe and some parts of North America and Asia. See antmaps.org.
Abundant in gardens, streets and parks.
Nests in any soil.
Workers: 3 – 5 mm
Queen: 9 mm
Males: 3,5 – 4,5 mm
Keeping and care
Very easy. Great species for beginners.
Behavior and description
No sting and too small to bite humans. Active and aggressive ants. Dark brown color.
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.
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.
July – August
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.
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.
Fluon, talcum powder, paraffin oil. They tend to wipe off the talcum powder after a while.
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.
Honeydew surrogate, sugar water, insects (e.g. fruit flies, crickets, Blaptica dubia).