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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 28 years Observations: Like in other species of ants, there are major differences in longevity between queens and workers. Workers normally live up to 1-2 years while queens have can live up to 28 years (Parker et al. 2004).
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Taxonomic History

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1 subspecies

Formica nigra Linnaeus, 1758 PDF: 580 (w.) EUROPE. Palearctic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Combination in Lasius: Fabricius, 1804 PDF: 415.
Combination in Donisthorpea: Donisthorpe, 1915f: 200.
Combination in Formicina (Donisthorpea): Emery, 1916a PDF: 240.
Combination in Acanthomyops: Forel, 1916 PDF: 460; .
Senior synonym of Lasius nigerrima: Emery, 1892c PDF: 162.
Senior synonym of Lasius pallescens: Mayr, 1861 PDF: 49.
Combination in Acanthomyops (Donisthorpea): Donisthorpe, 1927a PDF: 8; Donisthorpe, 1950e PDF:1063;.
Senior synonym of Lasius alienoniger, Lasius emeryi, Lasius nitidus, Lasius minimus, Lasius transylvanica and material of the unavailable name Lasius pilicornis referred here: Wilson, 1955a PDF: 59.
Current subspecies: nominal plus Lasius niger pinetorum.
Senior synonym of Lasius alienoniger: Kutter, 1977c: 14.
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Biology

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This ant often builds its nest in soil, in tree stumps or under stones or logs, and it frequently nests beneath paving stones in gardens (4). It may occasionally invade the nests of other species of ants (1). Colonies number around 5, 500 individuals (1). A wide range of food is eaten, including seeds, flower nectar, flies and other small insects, which are killed and taken back to the nest. Small black ants also 'milk' aphids, collecting drops of sweet honeydew exuded by the aphids. Aphids may even be taken into the nest (2). Winged reproductive males and females engage in a mass mating flight in hot, humid weather during July and August (2). Males die after mating, and females establish new colonies. A queen mates only once, storing sufficient sperm inside her body to last her lifetime. The mating flight ensures that the species disperses well, and also increases the chance that males and females from different nests will mate, avoiding inbreeding, as the winged reproductive adults of different colonies in one area fly at the same time (3). After finding a suitable location, the queen begins to produce eggs. The resulting 'workers' are non-reproductive females, who take over the care of the colony. After hatching, the larvae initially feed on unhatched eggs; they are then fed by the workers on a regurgitated fluid (3).
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Conservation

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No conservation action has been targeted at this species.
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Description

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This is the commonest ant seen in Britain. Workers (non-reproductive females) are blackish-brown in colour and covered in small hairs (2). Winged reproductive females (queens) are almost twice as big as the workers (3), are darker in colour and have a large pair of clear wings, which are shed after mating (2). Males also possess wings and are much smaller than queens (2). The larvae are legless grubs, and the pupae are protected inside a white silk cocoon (3).
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Habitat

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Although found in a wide range of habitats, this ant is perhaps most familiar as a garden species (4). It also occurs in scrubland and wet areas. It can only survive in grasslands providing that there are either stones or mounds of the yellow meadow ant (Lasius flavus) present (1).
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Range

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The small black ant is found throughout Europe, and also occurs in Japan and North Africa. In the UK, this species has a broad distribution, but is absent from certain areas of Scotland (1).
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Status

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Widespread and very common (1).
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Threats

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This ant is not currently threatened.
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Distribution

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Que., Maine s. to Fla. w. to Idaho, Wyo., Colo., N. Mex.; Calif. (Sierras); Alaska (?).
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Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico. 1979. Prepared cooperatively by specialists on the various groups of Hymenoptera under the direction of Karl V. Krombein and Paul D. Hurd, Jr., Smithsonian Institution, and David R. Smith and B. D. Burks, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Insect Identification and Beneficial Insect Introduction Institute. Science and Education Administration, United States Department of Agriculture.

General Ecology

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Nests almost exclusively in open areas, either under stones or in crater nests. One of the dominant ants found in lawns, cultivated fields, grassy road strips, and prairies. A common house and lawn pest and also fosters honeydew-excreting insects.
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Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico. 1979. Prepared cooperatively by specialists on the various groups of Hymenoptera under the direction of Karl V. Krombein and Paul D. Hurd, Jr., Smithsonian Institution, and David R. Smith and B. D. Burks, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Insect Identification and Beneficial Insect Introduction Institute. Science and Education Administration, United States Department of Agriculture.

Diagnostic Description

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[[ worker ]]. L. 3 a 3,5 mill. Pilosite dressee du corps, des pattes et des scapes, ainsi que la grandeur des yeux identiques au niger typique. Mais la sculpture est plus faible, surtout sur la tete, qui est luisante, ponctuee, l'epistome meme tres luisant, plus luisant encore que chez le flavus . Les mandibules sont aussi luisantes et tres faiblement sculptees. La couleur varie d'un jaune brunatre aussi clair que chez les exemplaires fonces du Lasius flavus d'Europe a un brun plus clair que celui des exemplaires les plus clairs des Lasius niger et alienus , a peu pres comme chez les formes bruneo-emarginatus et brunneus , mais uniforme (le thorax n'etant pas plus clair que l'abdomen et la tete), et plus luisant

Du reste identique au L. niger . Les variations de couleur de cette forme rappellent celles de l´alieno-flavus Bingham, do l'Inde septentrionale, mais la pilosite, les yeux plus grands et la taille plus grande l'en distinguent.

Buchara oriental (Schugnan, fl. Gunt, Sardym, 10 [[ worker ]], 16. VIII; Kara-gurum-Mazar, 3 [[ worker ]], 24. VII; Roschan, Col de Mardzanai, 4 [[ worker ]], 19. VIII. 1897. Kaznakov!).

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Forel, A., 1904, Note sur les fourmis du Musée Zoologique de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences à St. Pétersbourg., Yezhegodnik Zoologicheskogo Muzeya Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk, pp. 368-388, vol. 8
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Diagnostic Description

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Transcaucasie orient. (Gouv. Baku, gorge de Bum, 1 [[ worker ]], 1892. Schelkovnikov!); Region transcaspienne (As'chabad, 1 [[ queen ]], 1896. Ahnger!).

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Forel, A., 1904, Note sur les fourmis du Musée Zoologique de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences à St. Pétersbourg., Yezhegodnik Zoologicheskogo Muzeya Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk, pp. 368-388, vol. 8
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Diagnostic Description

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Lasius niger var. alienoniger Forel, 1874: Forel 1892 , Atanassov 1936 , 1952 (see Notes below)

Records

(Map 55): Bulgaria ( Agosti and Collingwood 1987a , Atanassov and Dlusskij 1992 , Seifert 1992 ); Western Predbalkan: Krapets vill. [ Atanassov 1936 (as Lasius alieno niger )]; Central Predbalkan: Dermantsi vill. (Lukovit) [ Atanassov 1934 , 1936 (as Lasius alieno niger )]; Western Stara Planina Mts: Chepan (Dragoman) ( Borisova et al. 2005 ); Eastern Stara Planina Mts: Sliven ( Forel 1892 ); Zemen Gorge: Skakavitsa waterfall ( Atanassov 1936 ); Vitosha Mt. [ Atanassov 1952 (as Lasius niger L. var. alieno-niger Forel), Hlaváč et al. 2007 ]; Sofia Basin: Sofia [ Atanassov 1936 (as Lasius alieno niger ), Antonova 2004 , 2005 , Lapeva-Gjonova 2004b , Lapeva-Gjonova and Atanasova 2004 , Antonova and Penev 2006 , 2008 , Hlaváč et al. 2007 ], the surroundings of Sofia near Vladaya vill. ( Antonova and Penev 2006 , 2008 ); Plana Mt.: Pasarel vill. ( Vagalinski and Lapeva-Gjonova in press ); Podbalkan Basins: Rose valley ( Atanassov et al. 1955 ); Lozenska Planina Mt. ( Vassilev and Evtimov 1973 ): near German monastery ( Antonova and Penev 2008 ); Belasitsa Mt. ( Atanassov 1964 ); Krupnik-Sandanski-Petrich Valley: around Mitino vill., Petrich plain ( Atanassov 1964 ); Rila Mt.: the valley of Rilska river [ Forel 1892 (as Lasius niger Rasse alienus var. alieno-niger)]; Western Rhodopi Mts: Asenovgrad [ Forel 1892 (as Lasius niger Rasse alienus var. alieno-niger)], Devin, Peshtera, Batak ( Lapeva-Gjonova in press (a) ); Southern Black Sea coast: Burgas, Sozopol [ Forel 1892 (as Lasius niger Rasse alienus var. alieno-niger)], Veselie vill. ( Forel 1892 ).

Notes:

Some of the above mentioned records most probably include also closely related Lasius platythorax . Lasius niger alienoniger Forel, 1874 has been considered by different authors to be a separate species or a junior synonym of Lasius niger , but Seifert (1992) proposed it should be considered as incertae sedis in Lasius (for details see Bolton 1995 , Bolton et al. 2006 ).

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Lapeva-Gjonova, Albena, 2010, Catalogue of the ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Bulgaria, ZooKeys, pp. 1-124, vol. 62
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Diagnostic Description

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Transcaucasie (Borzom, Likani, attires par la lumiere electr., l [[ male ]], 1 [[ queen ]], 12. VII; Gouv. Elisabethpol, Geok-tapa, 14 [[ worker ]], 26. VII. 1901. R. Schmidt!).

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Forel, A., 1904, Note sur les fourmis du Musée Zoologique de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences à St. Pétersbourg., Yezhegodnik Zoologicheskogo Muzeya Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk, pp. 368-388, vol. 8
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Diagnostic Description

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Himalaya (Smythies); 6,000 ' a 9,000 '.

[[ worker ]]: - L: 3, 6 a 4, 2 mill. Sillon frontal tres distinct. Beaucoup plus large et plus robuste que lu precedent. Plus robuste et plus grand que la forme typique d'Europe. Pubescence un peu plus grossiere, comme chez le L. alienus . D'un brun assez fonce, avec les joues, les mandibules, les scapes, la base des funicules, les tarses, une partie du dessous de la tete et les articulations des pattes d'un jaunatre sale plus ou moins rougeatre on brunatre (chez le L. brunneus , i. st., la couleur est d'un rouge brunatre avec l'abdomen brun).

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Forel, A., 1894, Les formicides de l'Empire des Indes et de Ceylan. Part IV. Adjonction aux genres Camponotus, Mayr., et Polyrhachis, Shuck., Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, pp. 396-420, vol. 8
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Diagnostic Description

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— Canaria, Tenerife (M. Noualhier). Forme typique a scapes et tibias tres poilus.

Ces deux especes sont tres communes en Europe; la deuxieme a ete trouvee aussi dans le nord de l'Afrique, ou elle a ete probablement importee d'Europe.

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Emery, C., 1893, Voyage de M. Ch. Alluaud aux iles Canaries. Formicides., Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, pp. 81-88, vol. 62
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Emery, C.
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Diagnostic Description

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[[ worker ]] et [[ queen ]] recoltes a Hakodate, Japon, par M. Hilgendorf (Musee de Berlin). Ces exemplaires sont absolument identiques a ceux d'Europe. — Comme cette espece si commune est deja connue comme habitant toute l'Europe, le Turkestan, le nord de l'Afrique, Madere et les Etats-Unis, on peut bien admettre maintenant qu'elle habite tout l'hemisphere nord jusqu'a environ 30 degres de latitude au sud.

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Forel, A., 1886, Études myrmécologiques en 1886., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique, pp. 131-215, vol. 30
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Diagnostic Description

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Tébessa (jardins).

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Forel, A., 1890, Fourmis de Tunisie et de l'Algérie orientale., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique, Comptes-rendus des Seances, pp. lxi-lxxvi, vol. 34
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Diagnostic Description

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Pas de longs poils epais, couches, jaunes sur l'abdomen.

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Forel, A., 1894, Les formicides de l'Empire des Indes et de Ceylan. Part IV. Adjonction aux genres Camponotus, Mayr., et Polyrhachis, Shuck., Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, pp. 396-420, vol. 8
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Diagnostic Description

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Chine occidentale (Sze-tschwan, fl. Pasyn-kou, pres de Tschzumse, 2 [[ queen ]], 19. VII; vallee de Maon-jukou, 1 [[ queen ]], 20. VII. 1893. Potanin!); Ussuri merid. (Sidemi, 4 [[ worker ]], 20 - 30. VII. 1897. Jankovsku!); Region transcaspienne (As'- chabad, 1 [[ queen ]], 1896. Ahkger!); Transcaucasie (Borzom, Likani, attires par la lumiere electr., 3 [[ queen ]], 8 [[ male ]], 12. VII. 1901. R. Schmidt!; Gouv. Kutais, Artvin, 2 [[ worker ]], 23. VI. 1898. Derjugin!).

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Forel, A., 1904, Note sur les fourmis du Musée Zoologique de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences à St. Pétersbourg., Yezhegodnik Zoologicheskogo Muzeya Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk, pp. 368-388, vol. 8
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Diagnostic Description

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Syst. Piez. 415,1. Formica minor, Ray , Hist. Ins. 69.

Swamm. Bill. Nat. t. 16, f. 1 - 11. The small black Ant, Gould, Eng. Ants, ii. 5. La Fourmi toute noire, Geoff. Ins. Par. ii. 429, 6. Hab. - Britain, Banks.

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Smith, F., List of the specimens of British animals in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. - Hymenoptera Aculeata., pp. -
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Black garden ant

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 src=
Black garden ant with a spider's mandibles

The black garden ant (Lasius niger), also known as the common black ant, is a formicine ant, the type species of the subgenus Lasius, which is found across Europe and in some parts of North America, South America, Asia and Australasia. The European species was split into two species; L. niger, which are found in open areas; and L. platythorax, which is found in forest habitats.[1] It is monogynous, meaning colonies contain a single queen.

Lasius niger colonies can reach in size up to around 40,000 workers in rare cases, but 4,000–7,000 is around average. A Lasius niger queen can live up to 15 years and it has been claimed that some have lived for 30 years. Lasius niger queens in the early stages of founding can have two to three other queens in the nest. They will tolerate each other until the first workers come, then it is most likely they will fight until one queen remains. In certain circumstances, it is possible that there can be multiple queens in a single colony if they are founding somewhat near each other and eventually their two tunnels connect. Under laboratory conditions, workers can live at least 4 years.[2]

Lasius niger is host to a number of temporary social parasites of the Lasius mixtus group including Lasius mixtus and Lasius umbratus.

Appearance

Life cycle

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L. niger queens with and without wings

Mating flights

Ants mate on the wing, so "flying ants" are alates (reproductive individuals), which includes males and gynes (virgin queens). The mating (or nuptial) flights of Lasius niger usually occur around June to September throughout the species' range; in North America flights usually occur during the autumn, whereas in Europe they generally take place during the hot summer months of July and August. Flights can contain thousands of winged males and females.[3]

Disparities between local weather conditions can cause nuptial flights to be out of phase amongst widespread populations of L. niger. During long-lasting, hot summers, flights can take place simultaneously across the country, but overcast weather with local patches of sunshine results in a far less synchronized emergence of alates.

Once the queens have mated they will land and discard their wings and begin to find a suitable place to dig a tunnel. Meanwhile, males generally only live for a day or two after the mating flights and will then die.

New nest

After removing her wings, a queen will move quickly to find moist ground, then start digging a tunnel. Once the tunnel has been completed, the queen will block the entrance and retreat to the bottom. Subsequently, she will dig out a small chamber. This will serve as the claustral chamber of the new colony. Generally, a queen will begin to lay eggs immediately after the construction of the chamber, and the eggs will hatch after 8–10 weeks. Until the eggs hatch and the larvae grow to maturity, a Lasius niger queen will not eat, relying on the protein of her wing muscles to be broken down and digested. In some cases, a Lasius niger queen may eat her own eggs in order to survive.

Egg to ant

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Lasius niger nest

Lasius niger, like other ants, have four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Lasius niger lay tiny, white, kidney-shaped eggs with a smooth sticky surface which helps them to be carried in a group instead of one by one. After hatching Lasius niger proceed onto the larva stage resembling tiny maggots. The larvae need to be fed by the queen (or workers in the case of an established colony) if they are to mature; as they feed the larvae grow, shedding their skin, doing so usually three times in total. With each molt, the larvae grow hooked hairs which allow them to be carried in groups. When Lasius niger larvae reach the last molt they are generally too big to be carried as part of a group and so are carried individually. Once the larva grows big enough it spins a cocoon around itself. To aid this process a queen (or workers) may bury the larva so that it can spin its cocoon undisturbed, and begin a process of metamorphosis. Once the process is complete the Lasius niger worker emerges from the cocoon. At this stage, the callow worker is completely white but will darken over the course of an hour until it has turned black.

Colony established

The first worker ants that emerge are very small compared to later generations. At this point the workers immediately begin to expand the nest and care for the queen and brood; they eventually remove the seal from the entrance to the nest and begin to forage above ground. This is a critical time for the colony as they need to gather food quickly to support future growth and particularly to feed the starved queen, who would have lost around 50% of her body weight. From this point on the queen's egg laying output will increase significantly, becoming the queen's sole function. The later generations of worker ants will be bigger, stronger and more aggressive because there is more nutrition for them at the larval stage. The initial brood being fed only by the scarce resources available to a queen will be much smaller than brood supported by a team of foraging and nursing workers. Provided workers are able to find food, at this stage the colony will see an exponential rise in population. After several years, once the colony is well established, the queen will lay eggs that will become queens and males. Black ants often make large nests with extensive tunnel connections.

Quarantine behavior

When building their colony, the ants structure it so as to inhibit the transmission of different contagions.[4] Different communities within the colony are segregated by a limited number of connective nodes, allowing for greater protection of vulnerable hive members, such as larvae and pupae, and the queen.[4]

Additionally, individual infected ants have been observed as spending more time foraging outside of the hive, venturing farther than other ants, and limiting their interactions once within the hive again.[4]

Long-lived queens

Although worker ants live for at least four years, queens can survive for almost 30 years.[5] Understanding the basis for the greater longevity of queens has a bearing on the general unsolved problem in biology of the causes of aging. In the study of long-lived queen ants it was found that queens have a higher expression than genetically identical workers of genes involved in processing damaged macromolecules.[5] Genes with higher expression included those that are necessary for repair of DNA damage (see DNA damage theory of aging) and genes involved in proteasome-mediated, ubiquitin-dependent, protein catabolic processes.

Mutualism

The Plebejus argus butterfly lays eggs near nests of L. niger, forming a mutualistic relationship.[6][7] This mutualistic relationship benefits the adult butterfly by reducing the need for parental investment.[6] Once the eggs hatch, the ants chaperone the larvae, averting the attacks of predatory organisms like wasps and spiders as well as parasites. In return, the ants receive a saccharine secretion fortified with amino acids from an eversible gland on the larvae's back.[6][7] As first instar larvae prepare to pupate, the ants carry the larvae into their nests.[6] Once the larvae become pupae, the ants continue to provide protection against predation and parasitism.[7][6] The butterfly leaves the nest when it emerges in June.[7]

Habits

These ants are regarded as a nuisance and scavenge in kitchens, garbage and also dog excrement, therefore potentially spreading diseases such as salmonella. The most effective control measure is to find the colony and treat it.

Eating habits

Feeds on anything, especially if sweet. These ants 'milk' (stroke) aphids for their honeydew. When an ant finds food, it lays a scent (pheromone) trail to its nest for other workers to follow.

References

  1. ^ Klotz, John H. (2008). Urban Ants of North America and Europe: Identification, Biology, and Management. Cornell University Press. pp. 39–44. ISBN 978-0801474736.
  2. ^ Czaczkes, T. J. (2017). "unpublished data". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ http://biology.arizona.edu/sciconn/lessons2/Shindelman/teacher/Page2.htm
  4. ^ a b c Gitig, Diana (November 26, 2018). "Sick ants stay away from the kids". Ars Technica. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Lucas ER, Privman E, Keller L (2016). "Higher expression of somatic repair genes in long-lived ant queens than workers". Aging. 8 (9): 1940–1951. doi:10.18632/aging.101027. PMC 5076446. PMID 27617474.
  6. ^ a b c d e Seymour, Adrian S.; Gutiérrez, David; Jordano, Diego (2003-10-01). "Dispersal of the lycaenid Plebejus argus in response to patches of its mutualist ant Lasius niger". Oikos. 103 (1): 162–174. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0706.2003.12331.x. ISSN 1600-0706.
  7. ^ a b c d Jordano, D.; Rodríguez, J.; Thomas, C. D.; Haeger, J. Fernández (1992-09-01). "The distribution and density of a lycaenid butterfly in relation to Lasius ants". Oecologia. 91 (3): 439–446. doi:10.1007/bf00317635. ISSN 0029-8549. PMID 28313554.

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Black garden ant: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN
 src= Black garden ant with a spider's mandibles

The black garden ant (Lasius niger), also known as the common black ant, is a formicine ant, the type species of the subgenus Lasius, which is found across Europe and in some parts of North America, South America, Asia and Australasia. The European species was split into two species; L. niger, which are found in open areas; and L. platythorax, which is found in forest habitats. It is monogynous, meaning colonies contain a single queen.

Lasius niger colonies can reach in size up to around 40,000 workers in rare cases, but 4,000–7,000 is around average. A Lasius niger queen can live up to 15 years and it has been claimed that some have lived for 30 years. Lasius niger queens in the early stages of founding can have two to three other queens in the nest. They will tolerate each other until the first workers come, then it is most likely they will fight until one queen remains. In certain circumstances, it is possible that there can be multiple queens in a single colony if they are founding somewhat near each other and eventually their two tunnels connect. Under laboratory conditions, workers can live at least 4 years.

Lasius niger is host to a number of temporary social parasites of the Lasius mixtus group including Lasius mixtus and Lasius umbratus.

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