Black Garden Ant 101: What Do They Look Like?

Black garden ants are the most common pest that is found crawling within your backyards. These ants can reside in any climatic condition with homes nests underground. True to their name, the garden ant is black in appearance from top to bottom. Narrow in the waist and flightless in nature, these insects thrive in large masses in self-created colonies. It is quite easy to mistake these Black Garden Ants with their look-alike brethren since there are over forty other species categorized under common pests. Most of these ants are similar in nature and appearance, yet do not tend to reside together due to territorial issues.

What do black garden ants look like?

Black garden ant on green leaf

The category of ants that are under discussion is very minute in nature. Ranging from four to seven millimeters in length, these ants are dark in nature. With body colors from brown to black, you can mistake these flightless creatures for other species of the same body type. However, there are three different types of Black Garden Ants, which are slightly different in body shapes and work categories.

The first type of garden ant you could see would be the worker ant on the ground by the naked eye. From being three to five millimeters long, the worker ants have a dark glossy black body color. Workers tend to grow larger over time if the colonies survive over their average times.

The second type of garden ant would be the Male Phenotype. These are slightly greater than the average worker ant by one or half a millimeter. However, these are slimmer in nature though they share the same color. Their differing factor would be the glossy wings they support on their backs. Due to this, their body shape appears to be different, giving them an almost wasp –like appearance. The wingspan of the common male phenotype is over five millimeters in length. With tiny tendrils running through, the wings give off a very delicate appearance.

The last type of garden ant would be the Queen (female) Phenotype. These are the largest of all three categories, standing out at nine millimeters in length. The color of their bodies is black in nature as well; however, a glossy sheen covers it as well. The queens are the powerhouse of the labor force that drives the ants to glory. Fertilized frequently, these queens are also known to ingest their wings during winter, to use for food during harsh winters.

Where do they Live?

Black garden ant cave

The Black Garden Ants live mostly in sight. You can find the nests in the dry soil of gardens that ants feel are safe from predator trafficking. The ants create their nests within crevices and grooves found within the chosen spots. Flower beds and paving stones make for excellent nesting grounds.

They choose their nesting grounds alongside paths marked with scents of food that the ants may consume to continue breeding and growing. The nests are placed nearby to these food markers, so the worker ants can forage food quickly till the time the supply runs out. The ants tend to use the flat ground for their foraging excursions, following ground vegetation and paved surfaces to destinations that may hold more food for them to devour.

When the ants have nested within a garden, they can create a rather large fuss for those with a keen eye. Farming aphids and scaling honeydew, the ants spread from host plant to other host plants, distributing their pets as they move. The typical Black Garden Ant also feeds on natural predators required for a healthy garden habitat, such as spiders and other small insects.

During summer months, the ants are at their busiest, as they scurry and explore their newfound turf very extensively. They search for food and more nesting grounds to please their Queen Ant, and sometimes may also bury through concrete and brick in their pursuit.

When Can you See them?

From late spring to early winter, you can see the black garden ants on the ground. The months of June to August were particularly important to the ants, as these are the mating months for the Queen ant, and it is during this time, the worker ants are at their peak level of search and retrieve, while the winged male phenotypes fly around. When temperatures are humid, and the weather is sunny, black garden ants are very active.


Male phenotypes mate with their winged counterparts, during their three to four-hour flights. During this time, many falls and are consumed by natural predators. However, most male phenotypes die out after the flight itself. The fertilized females then fall back onto the ground to shed their wings and to nest where they have already explored first.

Here the females lay their eggs and rear the young larvae into adults. These adults are then classified as the new worker ant while the female is hailed as their new queen. The workers then multiple rapidly and resume their search for food, while also producing more young ants while protecting their colony from invaders.

The new queen then lays special eggs as spring arrives. These are the new male and female winged ants. The new ants are fertile and ready to mate on adulthood, and once they are back into the air, the cycle restarts.

Black garden ants damage

The ants tend to have numerous queens that live up to fifteen years at a time. The Queen’s command the colony and make it a functional unit while laying eggs until they are ready to be replaced by another. In many cases, upon the death of a queen, ants are seen to wander around until they are taken in, by another colony or by death.

Black Garden Ant Damage

The black garden ant is virtually a harmless creature to the human population. They are unable to carry any diseases and do not bite. Their major aim is to eat, mate and work for their colonies which are how they can host up to ten thousand workers at a time. However, these ants tend to attract special kinds of predators. In some cases, the ants also help to accelerate population growth of other species by protecting their young in exchange for food. By themselves, they do nothing but eating small fruits. However, they can give rise to other pests for their survival.

Garden ants are also known to loosen the soil around the ground due to constant foraging and burying the ground. Their movements are scattered and exploratory and may also cause damage to infrastructure though at small scales. They are known to create cracks that cause water and soil leakage into gardens and homes. Apart from that, they are considered nuisances; for they are attracted to sugary items once they have the scent.

What do Black Garden Ants Eat?

Black garden ants eat most of the food they can scavenge. They are not picky eaters and will eat from fruits and seeds to small insects. The ants also farm honeydew from aphids that they capture from around their chosen sites.

Professional Control

Black garden ants and cave

1. Baiting

If insects are considered to become too much of a nuisance, there is a shrewd way of taking care of their existence within the garden. By using gels and granular substances scented with sugary coatings, you can cure the ant infestation. By scattering these around the garden, the ants retrieve these granular baits and take them to the queen. On ingestion the queen is killed off, allowing the colony to break down and disperse over time. All future populations are then observed to migrate into other parts to avoid another colony collapse.

2. Insecticides

Another way to stop the ants would be to use pesticide sprays upon the perimeters of your homes. These are made from special chemicals that repel the ants from entering closed doors in search of food. Other insects such as spiders, roaches, and centipedes are also repelled in the process, making the inside of the home insect-free.

3. Pest Control

A sure-fire way to get rid of the ants would be to call a professional pest control organization. On arrival, they locate the colonies and pour molten aluminum within. The ants cease to exist, and the large underground colonies perish. Other ants may then migrate on learning.

DIY Solutions for Black Garden Ant Control

1. Spilled Food

An easy way would be to clean up after any food spillage or keeping the sink clean. The scent takes the time to reach the ants, and they take even a longer period to get to their destinations. By avoiding any food spillage, ants can be kept away.

2. Crevices and Grooves Covered

Man sealing the little cracks in wall

Keeping all the small spaces within the periphery walls of the home is also a technique used by many. By covering up all the little cracks in the walls with plaster or foam based sprays, they entry and exit points of the ants are closed off. By doing so, no scent will reach the insects, and even if it may, they may not be able to forage for food on learning they are blocked out.

3. Traps

Traps may be used, such as honey in glass jars or roach traps that use glue surfaces. The ants may be attracted towards the traps by using sweet foods, and upon getting stuck on the surface, the trap may be trashed or burnt to stop the infestation.

4. Landscape Mulch Disposal

Most of the times, gardeners bring ant infestations upon themselves without truly knowing how. This happens when landscaping mulch is not taken care of. By dumping it outside the home or within the trash, ants are not attracted inside lawns and gardens, for compost/mulch incorporates many food items that they may forage upon learning. Proper disposal goes a long way to avoid inviting the little guests into backyards.

On the whole, the Black Garden Ants are simple creatures that do not mean to disturb the existence of any other species that they may share their space with. They move about their small spanned lives in search of food and try to keep away from all that might wish to ruin their routines. Though they rapidly grow in numbers and create colonies, these insects are quite beneficial to the environment when their populations are kept in check.

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