The most common ant species that invade UK households is the black ant, also known as the garden ant. These ants are actually very dark brown, usually nest in soil and are often be found living under paving stones and concrete. These ants can become a real nuisance pest because during foraging when the workers enter domestic, commercial and industrial premises – particularly food preparation areas – in search of food.
The worker ants, which are likely to enter properties when searching for food, are 3 – 5mm in length. The bodies of all ants are made up of a head and these are distinctly separated by very narrow waists. They also have a sharp elbow joint in their antennae.
Ants are highly organised social insects, with each nest being centred around one reproductive female; the queen and her sterile daughters; the workers. It is only the foraging workers that invade buildings in search of food, which they take back to their nest to feed the larvae and queen.
“Flying ants” are the reproductive males and females. These reproductive females are future potential queens. They have a nuptial swarming flight during a few days in July and August, typically just after stormy weather. The males die shortly after mating and the females seek out nesting sites to build new colonies in the following spring. The mating swarms can cause a short-term nuisance, although this lasts only a few days.