A common pest in households across Perth is the black house ant, Ochetellus glaber
Black ants are found in suburban and rural areas across their native Australia. When in the natural habitat, they usually nest in sand, under rocks, in rotting logs, or under the bark of trees. But almost any crevice or cranny will do, even the hollow stems of plants.
In the wild they perform a useful function, eating the eggs, larvae, and pupae of other insects, along with small adult insects. They also eat small worms, seeds and other plant material.
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Worker ants are active by day and night. They are often discovered tracing convoy lines across walls, benches and floors. These trails can stretch long distances.
The adults grow up to 3mm in length. Their colour ranges from glossy black to a dark chocolate brown. When crushed, they emit a strong odour.
They belong to the same subfamily as the notorious Argentine ant. Thankfully, like all other ants of this group, they lack a sting. However, they can bite.
Where to find black house ants
In backyards, black ants can be a minor nuisance. Gardeners sometimes find them climbing tree trunks in long trails.
But problems really erupt when they enter the home. New colonies are set up in wall cavities, beneath floors, and in the crawl spaces of roofs.
Like many other ant species, the workers leave pheromone trails to mark foraging paths between their nest and tasty food sources. They are particularly fond of sugary foods, and also forage in search of water.
Black ants are an international problem
The problem has been shared with the rest of the world. The black house ant has become an invasive species in the United States, New Zealand, and islands across the Pacific Ocean.
Book an expert (Alex)
Expert eyes are needed to identify ants properly, as there are more than 500 species of ants in the South-West botanical region alone (according to Curtin University entomologist Brian Heterick in his Guide to the Ants of South-western Australia, Western Australian Museum, 2009, page 15.
A qualified pest management technician such as Alex can determine the extent of your problem. Even better, he can help eradicate it.