Lasius niger is commonly known as the black garden ant, is found throughout Europe and in parts of Asia. North America seems to have Lasius niger populations and genetic evidence hopes to prove if this is indeed niger or a sufficiently diverged animal that could appropriately be classed as a distinct subspecies.
It is a monogynous species, colonies having a single queen with the nuptial or marrige/mating flights generally taking place during the summer months of July and August in Europe. 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 synchronised emergence of alates (winged individuals).
It is a metropolitan species, commonly found in urban and rural areas alike and is perhaps the most common ant that we see in and around our towns in the British Isles.
Some colonies of Lasius niger will farm aphids for the honeydew they excrete, often drinking it and regurgitating it on demand. Lasius niger a predator and scavanger, though and will predate on most insect and spider species in its range, as well as other small invertebrates. This species will often make large nests (mostly subterennean) with extensive tunnel connections and as such are a popular choice for ant farms where the tunnel networks are the visual attraction.
Lasius niger are dark brown to black in colour. Queens are 7 - 9 mm long and workers 2 - 5mm.
As with all ants (as well as bees, sawflies and wasps) Lasius niger undergoes Holometabolism (complete metamorphism), from embryo (egg), to larva, through pupa to imago (adult). L. niger will undergo its pupal stage in a cocoon, emerging from this as an adult ant.
A great deal of factors can influence how long it takes for an egg to develop into an adult ant; namely temperature and colony maturity.
In a captive environment, in young colonies one or two generations after the emergence of the first callow workers you would expect the following development times at 25°C.
Egg to larva - 15 days
Larva to pupa - 10 days
Pupa to adult - 15 days
40 days is what you can typically expect from egg to the emergence of an adult ant.
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