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Friday, 26 July 2019

The black garden ant

 The black garden ant (Lasius niger), also known as the common black ant, is a formicine ant, the type species of the subgenus Lasius, found all over Europe and in some parts of North America, South America, Australia, Asia and Australasia. The European species was split into two species; L. niger is found in open areas, while L. platythorax is found in forest habitats.It is monogynous, meaning colonies have 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 around 15 years and it has been claimed that some have lived for 30 years. Lasius niger queens while 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.
Although worker ants live for at least four years, queens can survive for almost 30 years. 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. 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. Black garden ants often explore their surroundings quite extensively during early summer months in an effort to increase the food supply to their queen and her young, and also as a way of testing new ground in preparation for the nests' summer flight. In some cases, these explorations lead to a burrowing through mortar and brick. This type of ant is a problem for some gardeners. They will farm aphids and scale for the honeydew they excrete, bringing them from host plant to host plant spreading these other garden pests to new healthy plants. The ants will also eat ripe fruits, especially fruits like strawberries that lack a thick protective skin. Lasius niger also feed on insects and spiders, and other small invertebrates.

 

(latin: lasius niger)

Friday, 26 July 2019