Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Life in a black ants nest

While working in the garden I accidentally disturbed a black ant nest on the rockery. This exposed a couple of chambers where ant larvae and cocoons were stored. The nest was beneath a rock a favourite site for ant nests because the rock absorbs the suns heat. This is why they also nest under garden paths and patios.
Tiny ant larvae

Worker ants swarmed around the nest to look for the intruder and protect the nest while others speedily picked up the larvae and cocoons and carried them deeper under ground.

These tiny ant larvae will be fed by the workers and grow rapidly if plenty of food is available. As well as protecting the larvae, the worker ants keep them clear and healthy.
Eventually the developing larvae will spin a cocoon while they change (metamorphosis) into worker ants.

If you look closely near the centre of the picture you will notice a much larger stage larvae which has been brought to the chamber so it can spin a cocoon.

Later in the year new queens and males will be produced who will leave the nest on a mating flight and the survivors will start colonies elsewhere. See below for a link to a mating flight last year, from a different black ants nest in the front garden.

Ants are fascinating to watch and one of the most interesting insects you can find in your garden.

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