Every year in the UK, huge flying ants appear on the same day across various different locations. It has become such a phenomenon that it has been dubbed National Flying Ant Day.
If you’ve already noticed these insects flying around, it’s because the flying ant period can in fact last a few weeks. Typically however, it builds up to a specific day when millions of these creatures come out at the same time all over the country.
While there’s no set day when this happens, it usually occurs in July. It’s thought to be when a spell of wet weather is followed closely by hot humid weather. The Royal Society of Biology is currently studying why this phenomenon occurs and they argue that after four years of studying this behaviour, Flying Ant Day isn’t actually as predictable as they originally thought.
Why does this happen?
What’s so special about Flying Ant Day and why do all these insects choose to come out on the same day?
The reason why this occurs is because this is when both male and female ants sprout wings and venture out of their nests on a nuptial flight. This means they’re seeking ants from other colonies to mate with and believe it or not, they mate during flight.
Why do they all decide to leave the nest at the same time? The more flying ants which appear in a short space of time, the higher the likelihood that a queen will encounter a male from another nest – thus increasing the chances of reproduction being successful.
Once the males and young queens have mated, the queens lose their wings and can often be seen walking around on their own trying to start a new nest.
The flying ants you’re most likely to encounter are the black garden variety (Lasius Niger). Their nests have a single queen and typically consist of anything between 5,000 and 15,000 workers so it’s easy to understand why they’re almost unavoidable on Flying Ant Day.
If flying ants aren’t enough to contend with, those living in or visiting beach towns have also been warned to beware of seagulls when Flying Ant Day does happen. In previous years, there have been reports of seagulls ‘getting drunk’ by feasting on the flying insects and becoming blissfully unaware of cars coming towards them.
Entomologist at the Society of Biology, Dr Rebecca Nesbit said the reason why this happens is because ants produce formic acid which can ‘stupefy’ the gulls which would explain why they don’t fly away from danger like they usually would.
As uncomfortable as it may be to have flying ants swarming around you, please bear in mind that they’re actually a very important part of our environment. They aerate the soil, help to cycle nutrients, improve garden fertility and control other more bothersome pests. They also provide a vital food source to many species of birds so if you think they will bother you, please try to stay inside with the windows closed rather than try to kill them.
If you would like help with any form of pest control, please feel free to contact Prokill for your free pest audit.