A. Insects (Other)
More extensive information on insects can be found in a separate blog post.
B. Ants (Formicidae)
Ants, Wasps, and Bees are related, and in a huge insect group called the Hymenoptera. Ants have ‘elbowed’ antennae, and a node-like structure of one or two segments that distinguishes their slender waists. They are social, living in organised nests of many thousands. Only the queen is fertile, the female workers being sterile. Females do all the work in the nest, looking after the other ants, eggs, and larvae, tidying, and building extensions. They have a lifespan of about five years. Male ants are only born from special eggs laid by the queen in the Summer, along with new queen eggs. The males mate with new queens, after which they soon die, and the new queens leave, or are driven out by the incumbent queen, to found colonies of their own. The departing queens and the winged males are called ‘flying ants’ and are only seen in the Summer. Ants are omnivorous, eating other insects, fruit, and nectar, but probably their favourite food is the sugary secretion of sap-sucking insects, and they will herd and farm aphids to get this secretion, or ‘honeydew’.
This widespread family of nest-building ants has a profound effect on soil structure.
C. Black Garden Ant (Lasius niger)
Probably our most familiar ant, this species will nest in earth, tree stumps, walls, under paving, and anywhere else suitable. Up to 40000 individuals may populate a colony, which has a single queen in charge.