Little black ant

Little black ant

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Little black ant

The little black ant (Monomorium minimum) is a species of ant native to North America. It is a shiny black color, the workers about 1 to 2 mm long and the queens 4 to 5 mm long. It is a monomorphic species, with only one caste of worker, and polygyne, meaning a nest may have more than one queen. A colony is usually moderately sized with only a few thousand workers.

Monomorium minimum are scavengers that will consume anything from bird droppings to dead insects. They are predators of codling moth larvae, and also of fall webworm. Workers may forage in households, but nest in soil mounds. It also tends aphids such as the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines), harvesting honeydew.

During mid-summer the queens and males perform the nuptial flight, mating in midair. The males die shortly after. Each queen constructs a new nest, sheds its wings, and lays eggs. The development from egg to adult takes about a month.In a laboratory setting queens were found to live about one year and workers about four months.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Subfamily: Myrmicinae
  • Tribe: Solenopsidini
  • Genus: Monomorium
  • Species: M. minimum
  • Binomial name: Monomorium minimum

Habitat

Little black ant are usually seen around homes following well-defined trails between the nest and food and water sources. They feed on a wide variety of foods, but the workers are partial to the sweet honeydew produced by aphids, scales and mealybugs found feeding on many trees and plants. Fruit trees, roses and many shrubs serve as hosts for aphids and may contribute to ant infestations in homes and other buildings. Most infestations inside are the result of workers searching for food. On occasion, a colony or part of a colony may establish itself inside a wall, behind brick veneer or beneath the carpet by a doorway.

Behavior

Little black worker ants forage in scent-marked trails, which can be seen along sidewalks and foundation walls. If a colony moves inside a building, large populations can invade cracks and crevices, establishing highly visible foraging trails, particularly along counters, cabinets and pantries.

Although small, little black ants will fight larger ant species over food resources, especially when they’re protecting aphids, a favorite food that satisfies their sweet tooth. However, these omnivorous ants aren’t picky. They will feed on just about anything from sweets, seeds and produce to living and dead insects, meats and oily foods.

Tips for control

  • Eliminating piles of lumber, bricks or other debris that could serve as a nesting site for ants.
  • Keeping landscape mulch less than two inches thick and at least 12 inches away from foundations.
  • Ensuring the sprinkler system does not spray directly onto the foundation.
  • Sealing as many cracks in the building’s exterior as possible.
  • Keeping tree and shrub branches trimmed to prevent touching the building.

Little black ant images

Little black ant

Little black ant

Little black ant

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