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BLACK HOUSE-ANT

Ochetellus glaber (Mayr)

[Hymenoptera: Formicidae]

 

 

Adult: Worker black house-ants are 2.5-3.0 mm long. The body is elongate and black.

Head: The head is large and rounded with large mandibles at the apex. Antennae are long (longer than the head and prothorax), elbowed (geniculate) with an apical club. Eyes are small (less than half the size of the head).

Thorax: The thorax is without spines. All legs are similar in shape. Wings are absent in worker castes.

Abdomen: Cerci are absent.

Reproduction & Life-cycle:

The female reproductive caste (Queen) is initially winged, but wings are lost once mated. Queens lay hundreds of eggs within the nest. Several queens may be present in one colony. Males are produced throughout the year. Fertilised eggs become females, usually worker caste. Eggs not fertilised become males. Males are winged, mate once and die. Soldier and worker castes are female only. Eggs are white, oval and to 1 mm long. Eggs, larvae and pupae remain in the nest in cells. The queen initially feeds larvae, but workers take over the task as the colony matures.

Distribution:

Black house-ants are a minor urban pest in Australia. The species is endemic to Australia, probably Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. Black house-ant has been introduced to New Zealand and the USA.

Pest Status:

Black house-ant is common in Australian citrus and is an important and frequent pest which feeds on honeydew and protects homopterous pests. The species nests in crevices and cavities such as rockeries, pavers and in brickwork. Black house-ant invades homes and creates problems in kitchens.

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