Garden ants

Myrmica rubra

Garden ants, Common red ant, Red ant, European fire ant

Myrmica.sp.1 by Sarefo (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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Two Myrmica rubra ants on a leaf
Myrmica.sp.1 by Sarefo (CC BY-SA 4.0)
1 of 5
Myrmica rubra live in large colonies under rocks and gravel, tree litter and soil. They like dry conditions and are common in meadows and gardens across Europe, where they're native. Colonies can grow, spread and multiply, gradually spreading over large areas.


Are a food source for wildlife.
Can make aphid and scale infestations worse.


Adults: Like bees and termites, ants are social insects and comprise of several castes. Castes are ants with different roles in the nest and each caste can look different from each other. Worker ants are more likely to be seen above ground. They're reddish-brown, 5mm or smaller. Colonies contain 100s into 1000s of worker ants. The queen lays eggs which are about 1mm and cream in colour. Larvae: The larval stage is maggot-like, they stay inside nests where they're tended to by worker ants.


Wilting of young plants and seedlings if ant nests disturb roots. Rapid growth of aphid and scale infestations. Heaps of fine soil on the surface of the lawn.











Europe; invasive in the USA

Biological treatment

Irrigate soil regularly. Ensure container plants are watered regularly and the growing media is not allowed to dry. Where possible turn the ground to expose the nests to the sun and birds. Encourage insect-eating birds to the garden with bird feeders, boxes and baths.

Chemical treatment

Check with your local garden centre.

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