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There are 41 different species of ant living in the UK. The one that causes most problems for people is the garden or black ant (Lasius Niger), which is 3.5 to 5mm long and dark brown to black in colour.
Black ants usually nest outdoors in lawns, flower beds under paving stones and in walls. Although they are not a health hazard, they can be a nuisance, as they can find their way into homes in large numbers. They enter homes in search of sweet foods, getting in through small gaps in masonry, doors and windows.
Ants are not just pests, they feed off insects and act as scavengers in the garden.
The queen ant lays eggs in late spring that hatch into larvae after 3-4 weeks. She rears the larvae for three weeks, after which they pupate. From the pupae emerge the first brood of worker ants that forage for food and look after subsequent broods. Each year the council receives a number of calls concerning flying ants. These ants are not a separate species, but are, in fact, the same garden ants that are commonly seen crawling around. A colony of ants contains numerous workers (sterile females), a few males and several females (Queens).
The worker ants do not have wings but males and females are winged at swarming time when mating takes place. During this period, which may last 2 - 3 days in the summer, the winged males and females die and the queens, after shedding their wings, go off to start a new colony, digging a cell in the soil where they stay until the following Spring. Little can be done about these swarms, but it is comforting to know that the swarm will last a few days at most.
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Craven District Council
1 Belle Vue Square
Telephone: 01756 700 600
Fax: 01756 700 657