The Definitive Guide to UK Ants

One quadrillion ants litter the UK. Yes, that’s more than 10,000,000,000,000,000! Meaning, there are more than one million ants per person!

Ants are notorious pests, invading homes and gardens throughout the UK. Let’s jump into the world of these tunnel-dwelling, nest-building creatures and find out a bit more about them.


This Article Lists the Following Ants: 

  • The Black Garden Ant
  • Roger’s Ant
  • Pharaoh’s Ant
  • Ghost Ant
  • Pavement Ant

The Four Ant Subfamilies 

There are four prominent ant subfamilies that live in Britain:  

  • Dolichoderinae
  • Formicinae
  • Myrmicinae
  • Ponerine

These subfamilies do not all originate from the UK, some have travelled from far away countries and tropical climates to make their home in British households and gardens. 


The Dolichoderinae is a subfamily of ants that presents a great diversity of ant species throughout the world. Most species of Dolichoderinae are general predators or scavengers but they do not possess a sting. They do, however, have a chemical defensive compound which they produce from their anal glad – this defence mechanism is unique to this subfamily and is a source of unpleasant odours the ants produce when they are threatened, crushed or otherwise disturbed.  


This subfamily of ants has very reduced stings and enlarged venom reservoirs which produce formic acid. Many feed on nectar, while others are general scavengers, foraging on the ground or in vegetation. The Formicinae ants build particularly large nests, with hundreds and thousands of workers burrowing away. The workers are especially active and extremely fast moving – many defend their nests vigorously and attack intruders with their large mandibles and formic acid sprays.  


The Myrmicinae subfamily of ants is commonly found in your back garden, and once they have made their home they aren’t going far. These ants retain a functional sting and their nests are permanent, often found in rotting wood, soil, in trees or under stones. The colonies are generally small, although some species have giant nests with thousands of workers.  


Ponerine is a subfamily of ants with about 1,600 species, including Dinoponera Gigantean – one of the world’s largest species of ants. This species of ant is most easily identified from other subfamilies by a constricted abdomen and they are a rare example of stinging ants.  

Ant infestations are common in the UK and many people discover ant nests in their gardens during the summer months. Often, unless they are accessing your home or causing considerable damage to your garden, people leave them to their own devices. However, ant infestations pose a surprisingly significant health risk to humans and pets.  

If you discover any of the ants mentioned in this article inside your home, contact Safeguard immediately so that we can send a technician to your property to diagnose the extent of the problem and assess the appropriate cause of action.  

For now, let’s look at the most common ants found in British homes and gardens.  

The Black Garden Ant 

The Black Garden Ant is a common ant species found in British gardens, often turning up in homes during the warmer summer months. The Black Garden Ant is a Formicinae ant, an abundant species in Europe. You can find their nests outdoors and they can be identified by the presence of finely powdered soil around the nest exit holes.  


The Black Garden Ant is, as the name suggests, black in colour. The workers measure in at 4-5mm long, while the queen ants are 15mm long.  


These ants do not sting, so there is no need to worry about that. However, they are famous for swarming during their mating flights. The queens and reproductive males take to the skies during hot and humid summer days to mate.  

The queen ants overwinter in soil and lay their eggs in the warmth of late spring. Once the larvae hatch 3-4 weeks later, they feed on secretions from the queen’s salivary glands before the worker ants arrive to take over their care. The worker ants have their work cut out for them as they care for the larvae, build the nest and forage for food. The Black Garden Ant enjoys a varied diet ranging from fresh, sugary fruit to insects, dead or alive.  

Roger’s Ant  

Little is known about the lifestyle of the Roger’s Ant; however, they are very common in the UK. The Roger’s Ant is a reddish-brown colour and workers measure in at 2mm long. These ants sting but are rarely seen outdoors. The workers forage randomly, without any established structure or pattern and lay no trails. Roger Ants tend to swarm year-round and their nests are found in crevices around drains and behind broken wall tiles.  

Pharaoh’s Ant  

Pharaoh Ants are from the Formicinae subfamily and are notorious indoor pests, but can easily go unnoticed due to their small size. The Pharaoh Ants are a tropical species and tend to enjoy the comfort and warmth of the indoor climate. They are notoriously difficult pests to control.  


The working Pharaoh Ants are 2-3mm long, black and winged, while the queens are 3.5-6mm long, dark red in colour and winged. Pharaoh Ants are well-known for their black eyes.  


Pharaoh Ants live in multi-queen colonies. Each queen ant can produce up to 3500 eggs in its lifetime. Pharaoh Ants lose their wings soon after mating and their colonies can range from a few dozen to 300,000 individuals. Pharaoh Ants tend to swarm at any time of the year. In fact, the winged adults fly so irregularly that they are rarely seen. Pharaoh Ants feed on any food available indoors, such as high proteins in leftover meats, fats, blood, and dead insects.  

Ghost Ant  

Ghost Ants are from the Formicinae family and are named for a reason – because of their pale/translucent legs and abdomen. Ghost Ants are attracted to high moisture areas and can commonly be found in kitchen and bathroom cabinets, where warmth and food is in abundance.  

Ghost Ants are an especially invasive ant species in Europe, occupying roughly the same areas as Pharaoh Ants, including houses, hospitals, public buildings, greenhouses and zoos. Ghost Ants are famous for the coconut like odour they release when crushed.  


The Ghost Ant, as mentioned above, is translucent in appearance. The pale colour of its legs and abdomen make it difficult to see, allowing it to go practically unnoticed by predators. The ants measure in at 1.6mm and have dark heads and thoraxes.  


Ghost Ants have polygyne colonies (multiple queens in a single colony) with their individual nests containing between an astonishing 100 and 1,000 workers. One colony can consist of multiple nests which readily exchange workers. Ghost Ants are used to living in close quarters and, therefore, are not usually aggressive to each other when they originate from the same area.  

Pavement Ant  

The Pavement Ant loves the indoors, nesting inside the insulation within walls and under the floors. Pavement Ants can also dwell in the underside of logs, pavement blocks, stones and bricks. They feed on almost anything humans eat – they even eat pet food! They are often spotted entering homes in search of food, usually during the night. They forage for food for their colonies and commonly set up trails to food sources from their nests – this is an effective way to discover where they live.  

Pavement Ants earned their name because they nest in cracks in driveways and under pavements, piling the resulting dirt into a mound on top of the ground – a sight, I’m sure, many of us have seen before.  


Pavement Ants are characterised by their brown/black bodies, pale legs and antennae and they measure 2.5-3mm in length.  


Pavement Ants are a notorious nuisance, when large groups infest a kitchen or garden patio. They are a nuisance when invading homes in large groups and they are known to sting and bite.  

Contact Safeguard Pest Control Today  

If you discover ants in your property and they are excessive in their numbers, overrunning your home, call Safeguard Pest Control today. We have years of experience helping customers rid their homes of pests. Ants are one of the most notorious pests that litter Britain and they can be difficult to get rid of without the help of a professional. So, what are you waiting for? Call Safeguard today!

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