Common Black Ants: Life Cycle, Brood Development and How to Get Rid of Them


There are not too many people unfamiliar with the common black ant, we all have dealt with them at some point. If you haven’t yet, most likely you will as this is more or less the most common species found in the UK. These ants are not at all dangerous and are seldom more than a nuisance. Regarding being of no threat to your health, it is crucial you deal with them before they ruin your garden or infest your dwelling. As with any other insect or pest, it is important to know what they look like and in general their way of life. Getting a better understanding will help you handle the situation at an early stage. There are a lot of ant species all around the globe and if you are curious enough, read or watch videos about any of the species you will see how highly organized and fascinating they actually are.

Life stages of the common black ant

Ants have 4 stages of development.

  1. Eggs – almost like a single bread crumb are small, white, smooth but with a sticky surface. The stickiness helps to move them around more efficiently and quickly. This stage usually lasts between 8-10 weeks
  2. Larvae – as they are fed by the workers, or in case of being first generation, by the queen, the larvae grow and start a number of moults getting bigger after each moult. This process usually takes between seven and fourteen days.
  3. Pupae – when the larva becomes big enough and makes its last moult it gets moved by the workers somewhere in the nest where it cannot be disturbed, so it can spin its cocoon. The process of turning from larva into a pupa is known as metamorphosis. An adult ant will emerge from the pupae in about nine to thirty days.
  4. Adult Ant – this stage is separated into 3 types:
  • The most important one is the queen ant. She reaches 6-9mm in length
  • Worker ants – consists of sterile females, without wings, whose main job is to feed and protect the queen and the brood as well as to extend the nest
  • Flying ants – these are the fertile male and significantly larger virgin female ants that will later make their own nest.
Common Black Ants: Life Cycle, Brood Development and How to Get Rid of Them AccuRat


The garden ants’ life cycle begins with the hatching of the winged male and female ants. The mating period of the ants usually starts late June to August depending on the weather conditions. The winged female and winged male ants come from an already existing nest. Mating takes place in the air. This process between the winged males and females is called mating (or nuptial) flight. As this is his only purpose, inseminating the female, the male ant dies shortly after of exhaustion, while the female ant will land on the ground, shed her wings, and starts looking for a place where she’ll start digging to make her own nest, and lay the first generation of worker ant. During their mating flight, many of the ants are eaten by birds, others can’t manage to make their nest. Only a few of the newly hatched queens will survive to make their own colony. If the female survives, she’ll need some time until her first “helpers” are hatched. This is the hardest time for the queen. She will have to start digging a small hole where she will lay her eggs. After that, she will need to seal the entrance to protect herself and her brood and feed the larvae by herself. Until the larvae are ready to reach full maturity the queen ant will not eat. By the time the first workers hatch out, she would have lost about half of her body weight.

The first generation of worker ants will be smaller than the future generations. Their main roles would be first and foremost to feed the queen as by the time they are hatched she’ll be weak, nearly exhausted and starving. The workers then will need to expand the nest, the queen will lay her eggs again which will be fed by the workers and will hatch into bigger and stronger worker ants. Garden ants are highly monogyne, which means they will only tolerate one egg-laying queen being present in their colony. Ants are more than capable of defending themselves. They can be quite aggressive when they have to protect the brood and their queen. Oftentimes when there is more than one nest in close proximity, they’ll fight to the death until only one queen is left.

Preventative measures against ant infestation

When talking about any kind of insects there are several measures you need to take in order to prevent an infestation:

  1. Clean your kitchen regularly. Don’t leave any kind of food on the counters.
  2. Make sure you are using closed bins and dispose of your garbage on a daily basis if possible.
  3. Ants love anything sweet, so make sure you don’t leave any sugary products and crumbs just lying around.
  4. In case you have a pet, it is always best to clean it, empty it and store it whenever they are not feeding.
  5. Check for cracks and crevices in your doors and windows, and make sure to seal them.

Most of the time, when we receive a call from a customer complaining about an ant infestation, they mention they have tried to deal with them in a number of ways. From powder, to spraying and even mixing up some solutions that they’ve read online. It is a common problem amongst customers because it is not as easy as it sounds and most people underestimate the situation they are in.

In order to deal with an ant infestation, we need to locate the nest. If the nest is hidden we can simply follow their path to find it. Ants feed on anything sweet, so what we do is basically lure them with “sweet poison” that actually has a delayed effect. Workers are attracted to it, and after consuming it they bring it to the nest and feed it to the queen and the brood, which ultimately results in her death. By dealing with the inside of the nest we are preventing the outside spread.

Fun facts about ants

A single ant colony can consist of 15,000 worker ants.

You might already know this but it is absolutely fascinating if you really think about it - ants can carry up to 50 times their body weight, even more, if they work together to carry something to the nest. Just imagine if people were able to do the same.

Ants have poor eyesight, nevertheless, they are very well oriented as they navigate through senses and by leaving pheromone trails for others to follow. Ants will send out scouts who will take their time to look for a potential food source. Their paths will then be strategically marked to lead others to that food source.

Common Black Ants: Life Cycle, Brood Development and How to Get Rid of Them AccuRat

Why Pharaoh Ants are worse than the common black ant

What is interesting about the pharaoh ants is the way a colony sustains itself. Every once in a while new queens are born and after mating either they build their nest close to the already existing ones and coexist with one another or kill one of the senior queens to take her place. That way one colony can exist for years, growing substantially.
Due to the extensive and complex structure of the colony, it is far more difficult to get rid of them. Pharaohs’ ants, unlike the common black ant, are polygynous. That means they have more than one queen and more than one nest. When dealing with the black ants it is essential that you deal first and foremost with the queen, that way the workers have no more purpose in life, they’ll spread out and eventually die. With the pharaoh ants, it is much more complicated as there are more than just one queen, therefore the inspections are more thorough and the treatment requires a lot more attention than the treatment for the common ant. That is why an inspection is always recommended before starting any kind of treatment. To identify the ant species, assess the level of infestation and offer a proper treatment that will be best for you and your situation.

Call AccuRat and book your free inspection today

You can always contact us when you are dealing with an ant infestation, even if you are unsure about the species. You can do it directly through our website or call a member of our staff and we will send you a technician as soon as possible. Don’t let ants control your life, let us control and get rid of the infestation. We stand behind our work offering you a professional service as well as a warranty after each treatment.

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020 8144 4744


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