Types Of Ants In The UK

Types Of Ants In The UK:

Common Types Of Ants In The UK.

With more than 13 000 ant species around the world, there are only 50 types of ants commonly found throughout the UK. This is due to the cold winter weather and short summers experienced across parts of the British Isles.

In this article, we will take a close look at the most common types of ants in the UK, their appearance, behaviour and nesting habits.


Common Black Garden Ant (Lasius Niger)

Common Black Garden Ant (Lasius Niger)
Common Black Garden Ant (Lasius Niger)


Common Black Garden Ant (Lasius Niger) It is an ant species that is dominant almost everywhere in the UK. Only a few colonies of other ant species are found here and there but they all disappear without trace after a while leaving Lasius Niger to dominate the area.

This type of ant has become so common that it has been named ‘UK’s most common ant’ by Wilson (2000). At one time, this little creature was considered harmful but not anymore. The reason being since it is very unlikely for these ants to cause damage when their nests are outside homes or office buildings.

Black ant workers are about 3-5mm long and their queens can grow up to 6mm.

Workers have 2 nodes on their body (i.e. they carry a big abdomen). Queens have a slender and longer body compared to the workers. Their color varies from black, dark brown, or red depending on their age and species of ants in the UK . Males are similar looking to queens but smaller in size i.e 7 – 9 mm and yellowish brown in colour with black legs and antennas.

Lasius niger do not pose any health threat but UK citizens feel uncomfortable when these ants infest their homes. After identifying them as ‘nuisance’ rather than ‘harmful’, some people decide to set traps or use poison spray that kills the entire colony instead of just specific ants invading the premises.


The common black garden ant is anywhere between 3 and 5 mm in length

A queen is 2-3 times larger than the average worker and can get up to 12mm long. After she mates, she removes her wings and consumes them as a food resource during the winter. The female workers are normally smaller than their male counterparts with bodies that range from 2.5 to 4 mm .

Black ants Anatomy

Ants have three body segments: head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have six jointed legs, one pair of antennae which they use for smelling and touch (which also helps them communicate), one pair of compound eyes used to see light/darkness detection; however they do not see colors like humans do. They have an open circulatory system (which means that most of the time hemolymph can be found in the body cavity) and a nervous system.


Life cycle

  1. Egg-  laid by the queen
  2. Larvae – legles gruby fed by the workers, full grown in 3 weeks.
  3. Pupa – known (incorrectly) as “ant eggs”, develop in 2 weeks
  4. Adults – workers dark/brown, 3-5 mm long. Queens winged at first, 12mm, live for several years

Black garden ants (Lasius niger) go through four life cycle phases which include: eggs, larvae, pupae and adult colonies.[1] The queens lay these eggs individually or in groups ranging from one to six eggs at once. These eggs usually hatch within 1-2 weeks but sometimes it takes upwards of 3 weeks to hatch depending on temperature conditions of the colony. Once the workers of the colony hatch, they help take care of the eggs and larvae by dividing labor to feed them.

The larvae have multiple stages of moulting until it grows big enough to spin a cocoon around itself and begins its metamorphosis into an adult ant. Oftentimes, when there are many workers in a colony, they will help with this process by helping to bury the pupae with soil. Usually after about 7 days once their metamorphosis has completed then they would have become adults ready for work. The adults like all other ants live for about 40-50 weeks or more if you consider months as 4 weeks long.[2]



A black ant infestation can be a rather persistent problem for many homeowners. Black ants are commonly found in kitchens, going after the food bits which often get left on the floor. For this reason, it is advisable to keep your kitchen floor as clean and free from food bits as possible.

Black ants also manage to invade homes through other parts of the house where their presence turns out to be a nuisance to homeowners. These include garage areas near refrigerators, pantries, and garbage bins where leftover foods are often thrown out.

As much as one might try to prevent an infestation by these black ants, they can end up having more than just one colony inside the home if not dealt with properly. This means that you will need an effective solution against these pests if you want them gone for good. The most effective solution, however, is to order a professional ant treatment and have the pest exterminated all at once.

Yellow Meadow Ant (Lasius Flavus)


Yellow Meadow (Lasius Flavus) ants are among the most common ants in the UK. They are often found under stones, logs and vegetation. These yellow ants prefer living in areas with moist soil such as wet meadows, marshes or woodlands.

This species of ants is often mistaken for the black garden ant, which has more of a blue hue to it.



Brownish-yellow or just yellow, Lasius Flavus is very distinctive, compared to other species. Queen is usually dark orange or brown. The bottom part of its body is orange, as well as the legs.

Small ants of the species that have just finished metamorphosis are light yellow in colour completely.


Workers of the Lasius Flavus species are 2-5mm in size while a queen is about double the size of the worker starting at 7mm and reaching a length of up to 9mm.

Yellow meadow ants have a monogyne queen. This means that in their nest there is only one queen.

The species is a good fit for people who want to try ant keeping as a hobby as they require low maintenance efforts. Yellow ants of this species cannot bite or sting a person so they are safe in every aspect of ant keeping.

Growth and development

The growth process of the yellow ant is very similar to the one of the black ant. It takes about 9 weeks for a worker to emerge and to become part of the colony. In the same way, as the black ant, the yellow one spins a cocoon to make a transition from the pupa to its final stage of a developed ant.


Lasius flavus is an ant species of subfamily Formicinae that has many similarities to other Lasius Species like: Lasius niger and Lasius umbratus.

Their nests can be spotted by the clear patches of grass in your lawns that often appear during summer time when the colonies grow bigger than 250,000 individuals. The case above shows how you could easily spot where a colony lives even though there isn’t that much activity around it.

When building their nests they use living plants like meadow grasses as well as dead plant material such as dry leaves, stems and grasses of plants. Lasius flavus prefers to build nests in soil that is easy for them to dig into, this makes it easier for them to expand their nest as they grow bigger.

Lasius Flavus ants are omnivores so they eat just about anything that is organic including honeydew, insects like aphids and other small invertebrates. They also feed on dead animals that have reached the end of their life cycle which is a good way for nature to recycle and prevent diseases from spreading too much around different species of living beings.


Red Wood Ant(Formica Rufa)

The red wood ant, known as Formica Rufa is an insect that can be found across all European countries and the UK. It has most commonly been seen in parklands or forests with broadleaf weeds like dandelions for its habitat.

Size and appearance

Red Wood Ants are red but also have brown and black-coloured parts like the head and the rear part of their body. The average size is 4.5 to 9mm in length, with queens slightly longer reaching up to 12mm long on average. You can easily distinguish a queen from a worker by the lack of hair present on the abdomen for workers only .

Red wood ant workers are between 4.5 – 9 mm in length, while queens range between 8–12 mm . These ants’ colors vary as well; most commonly they feature shades such as reddish-brown or mahogany though different variations exist including those that appear dark green/black 


Feeding habits

Red wood ants are natural scavengers. They feed primarily on the honeydew, emitted by aphids but they also consume arachnids and insects. For example, Formica rufa is a good natural scavenger that will collect food from far away places to bring it back home for sustenance used in the colony as a whole.

 Redwood ant trails may be up to 100m long when scavenging food since older workers can travel further than younger ones do however most of them go straight back into the nest after their hunt without traveling too much outside its boundaries which makes sense because if you get lost or don’t know where your way out was, there’s no point going any further–you won’t find anything either!

Nesting habits

“Red Wood Ants” build nests on sunny spots with materials like twigs, grass and needles. “Formica Rufa” has multiple queens in a nest which may have up to 400 000 workers and 100 or so queens. The ant’s nests are associated with tectonic faults by building them near these types of faults where they can easily get sun penetration from the rays shining through cracks/faults into their mound-dome shape home base for warmth during winter months when ants hibernate inside protective walls underneath the dome surface away from harsh elements outside (like snow).

Ant colonies built around geological fault lines provide ideal conditions for red wood ants because there is constant heat beneath ground that comes out between fissures allowing it to  stay warm throughout winter months in order to survive


Black Ant (Formica fusca)

Formica fusca is a species of black ant that is more commonly spotted in the south midlands and lowland Britain. It differs from the common black ant as it lives at higher altitudes than other ants native to Great Britain, such as Formica rufa.

Size and appearance

Formica fusca ants are quite small, measuring between 4 and 7 millimeters in length. They have yellow legs with hairless heads on the underside of their faces that lack any hairs. The queen from this species Formica fusca is a bit larger than others at up to 12mm long; its shiny black color makes it easy to distinguish amongst workers.

Nesting habits

The black ants from the Formica fusca family build their nests inside rotten trees or beneath boulders and rocks. They are also attracted to hedgerows, where they will often nest in close proximity with a line of shrubs. The average Formica fusca ant is smaller than the typical worker, but there can be up to 2000 workers per nest if conditions allow for it. Worker policing occurs within these species as well – which means that non-nest mate eggs do not get reared


European Fire Ant (Myrmica Rubra)

While there’s one species of ant that can be found across all European countries, it is mostly known by its bright red color and dark-coloured head. Although the rest of their bodies are usually a deep maroon color, they’re easy to identify due to this distinction between their heads and torsos. 

These ants live under large stones or boulders for shelter but also seek out places where soil has fallen away from tree roots so as to get what nutrients remain in these locations when other sources might not provide enough sustenance for them on an ongoing basis since being picky isn’t always practical sometimes!


The European Fire Ant (Myrmica Rubra) is easily distinguished by its copper-colored head and dark abdomen. The ant has three pairs of legs, antennae like other Solenopsis species, and a thorax resembling the Abdominal segment of an insect.


The typical size of a worker ant from the species Myrmica Rubra ranges anywhere between 2 to 6mm. However, any smaller insects are unlikely to be queens as their minimum length starts off at 5 – 5.5mm in comparison with other workers which can vary depending on different factors such as food supply and age among many others..


The ant species Myrmica Rubra is polydomous and has multiple sites where they make nests. A single colony can have more than one queen, with the oldest queens able to live 15 years; exceptions of ants having more queens are also possible.

Myrmica rubra ants living in the UK search surrounding areas for food. Mating season starts at mid-year when these winged ant queens initiate nuptial flights and shed their wings after getting fertilized, just like other species of ants do. Males die during this time but it hasn’t been observed that these queen ants perform any nuptial flights as they start to form colonies by inspecting surroundings well with help from workers around them who carry out further tasks on behalf of a queen.”

The Myrmica Rubra has an interesting and unique way of dealing with the dead in their colony. There are undertakers who take away bodies that were found at a distance up to 10ft from the nest, never bringing them any closer than needed for safety’s sake.


Flying Ant (Alatus)

Winged ants commonly known as alates are typically sexually mature females who reappear every summer and can cause annoyance and discomfort. In the UK, these flying creatures tend to show up in urban areas on a day known as “Flying Ant Day”. Winged ant colonies contain only one queen whereas there could be many male drones or several fertile queens.

Size and appearance

Despite their name, these large ants are the queens. They can be up to 15mm long and have a narrow waist with two wings on each side of their body but if they’re crawling around you it’s likely that they belong to another species altogether. Queens live for up to fifteen years!


Flying ants around your house may indicate they are trying to establish new colonies. They will only be able to fly during the time of breeding season, and males have no other purpose than mating with queens.

Sugar Ant (Tetramorium caespitum)

Sugar Ants (Tetramorium caespitum) or “pavement ant” are most common in Europe and the UK, often attacking other ant nests during their quest to expand territory. They have been known to attack ants on streets because they nest under pavements there.In some areas, it’s common to observe thousands of dead ants while walking out because of this.


Sugar ants are usually dark brown and 2.5 to 4mm in length, they also have stingers that can only cause minor pain if used against a person but cannot be anything serious except for this reason. These worker ants along with newly morphed workers or queens called alates which fly around because of their large size compared to the normal working ant species are very easily recognized as well.

Newly morphed workers and queens are called alates and can fly. They are easy to recognise by their double size, compared to the workers of the same ant species.


The spring and summer starts when sugar ants fly for the purpose of mating. Some have mated successfully, creating a claustral chamber where they lay eggs before caring for first generation ones on their own.

Before the first generation reaches maturity, queens take care of all offspring on their own until later that season when it becomes autonomous as a whole colony with no more supervision from old hives or young mothers alike. During hot months like these pavement ants need fresh air so to provide ventilation in order to keep cool which is why they make certain structures within such times

They do so by digging in the sand between pavements, creating tiny holes for air to flow through.

Hairy Wood Ant (Formica lugubris)

The hairy wood ant is known as Formica lugubris and has a special way of distinguishing itself from other ants. When you take a closer look at its hairs, they go down in the direction of their eyes like eyelashes which sets them apart from others with only one line on each side connecting to the eye. Their size also makes it easier to identify since workers can reach up to 12mm whereas normal species are usually smaller than that mark.

The hairy wood ant lives in big colonies where all members are carnivores eating meat for food instead of plants or grains like most other species do so often times when humans come across these swarms, people mistake them for wasps due to how aggressive they get especially during nesting seasons around May-July



The gigantic colonies of the Formica lugubris have a smell that is specific to each individual and when other organisms without this distinct odour appear in their nests, they are immediately identified. The ants make large domed homes out in nature because it allows them to live together as one community with half a million workers all under one roof!

Scottish Wood Ant (Formica aquilonia)


The Scottish wood ant, Formica aquilonia is a member of the Formica genus. This species can be found in European forest areas and UK woodland regions.


The Scottish Wood Ant is a red-brown insect that has dark black, wide abdomens. This species of ant was discovered in the UK and measures up to 2mm by 8.5mm long with its bodies starting at 4 mm on average. Compared to other ants in the region, these insects have shorter hairs and their widest part of body extends from head into abdomen which grows up to be about 2 millimeters wide!.


Scottish ants build massive nests by joining them with other colonies. They work hard to find honeydew and bring it back to the nest for their queens, who lay eggs that then turn into workers. When these worker ants are ready they will leave the parent colony in search of another adjacent nest where two more queen ant larvae can be found before fusion occurs between multiple nests creating a large supercolony due to increased size and added resources- like honey dew!

The Scottish wood ant is an example one type of species known as “superorganisms.” Superorganisms comprise many small organisms (in this case bees or insects) linked together through social interactions such as mutualism which involves both parties getting something out of each other’s company — similar benefits


Carpenter Ants (Formica ligniperda)

Carpenter ants, called Formica ligniperda in Latin, build nests inside woods. However they do not eat or destroy the wood when building their nest which is why sometimes these colonies can live within properties that use wooden material during construction of both exterior and interior spaces. Like other species of ant this insect also feeds on honeydew from aphids by stroking them with their antennae while making sure to avoid harming them since it’s a symbiotic relationship between the two insects.



Carpenter ants, a member of the Camponotus genus and known for their affinity towards living inside wooden structures are also responsible for terrible structural damage to buildings. In addition to this destructive tendency they play a large role in decomposition by excavating wood throughout forests around the world.

Black carpenter ant is perhaps one of most popular species from its entire genus that includes over 1000 different species.”




The life forms that live in the primary nests of carpenter ants are crucial to their survival. They require a good level of humidity, but satellite nests do not have such high requirements for optimal conditions.

Satellite nests develop later when workers mature enough and can maintain these secondary structures on their own without assistance from other members within the colony.”


Feeding habits

Carpenter ants (Formica ligniperda ) are carnivorous animals that eat dead insects and scavenge for sugary food. They can consume honey, fruit juice, or aphids’ nectar to satisfy their hunger.

 It’s important to take care of proper food storage in your home so carpenter ants don’t find the kitchen a good place to scavenge sugary foods like sugar-added items (e.g., cake). You’re more likely spot them during nighttime as they become especially active at night time because it is cooler out then than during daytime hours when humans tend not be around their homes much 

You should always make sure you keep the house clean; this way any small insect carcasses won’t attract these creatures with ease into your own living space



Can Ants Cause Structural Damage ?

Ants can be devastating to your home, especially carpenter ants. When you notice signs of infestation, it is better to call a professional ant exterminator rather than take matters into your own hands because having these little buggers around will only lead to more damage and tension in the household!

While they cannot cause structural damage, Pharaoh ants are known for transmitting some diseases such as staphylococcus, salmonella and clostridium. These bacteria can even lead to the development of botulism.

In conclusion

There are over 12,000 species of ant and less than 100 in the UK. They’re tiny crawling insects that have unique characteristics like perfect organization skills. Most ants aren’t harmful to humans but some can pose a health threat if not treated quickly by professionals before the infestation exceeds and it becomes an issue for health concerns. Types Of Ants In The UK


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