Synchronised Flying Ants

Flying antsJuly and August is the season for flying ants though the relentless rain has dampened their passion this summer. Last July I remember returning home one beautiful summer’s evening to a cloud of flying ants swarming outside my front door. The whole process took about half an hour before they had emerged from their nest and disappeared into the sunset.

Ants fly in order to breed with other colonies, though no-one knows for sure how they coordinate this but scientists are trying to understand how.

In January scientists from the University of Girona studied 123 nuptial flights of the seed-harvester ant over a seven week period to try to establish a link between the weather and flying ants. They discovered that the largest number of synchronized nuptial flights of ants took place 2-3 days after rainfall which is presumably makes the ground softer for the ants to create their nests. Low wind also seemed to be a deciding factor in nuptial ant flights. The flights also took place on the same date across a distance of 1000km indicating large-scale synchrony.

To try and discover if flying ants take to the skies in the UK at the same time the Society of Biology is asking for the help of the public. If you see any flying black garden ants in the UK please record the time, place, date and the weather and report it here.  It would be fascinating to see the report.

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  1. Margaret Lund
    • Caroline

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