Ants, ants everywhere… crawling, climbing, spilling out of pavements and most definitely flying!
This phenomenon, which occurs for a brief period each summer is not as bizarre as it first appears. These insects are the familiar black garden ants (Lasius niger) usually found in gardens, under patio slabs and if you’re unlucky, hiking through your kitchen cupboards.
Paul Blackhurst, Technical Academy Head at Rentokil Pest Control explains:
“After experiencing a prolonged period of warm weather across the country, we are seeing high numbers of flying ants taking to the sky, as they emerge from hiding to search for a suitable mating partner.
“The term ‘flying ant day’ often prompts the common misconception that this annual event occurs within the space of just a day, but in reality it occurs sporadically across different parts of the country as and when the weather conditions and temperature are right. This natural phenomenon is in fact a survival tactic designed to overwhelm potential predators such as swifts and gulls. Mating takes place on the wing between the fertile male (the smaller flying ant) and the unmated female (the larger flying ant). Once mating has finished both will fall to the ground where the male dies and the new, now fertile queen, loses her wings and then starts to bury herself underground to form a new nest.
“Although they can be a nuisance and alarming in great numbers, flying ants do not cause any harm and will go, usually as quickly as they appear, typically within a few hours. They provide a timely opportunity for birds to find food for their young, and their increased numbers could be seen as a positive sign for our natural garden ecosystems.”
“Flant” or ‘flying ant day’ is a colloquial term for this mass of swarming insects. This may appear to be a timed event but is just a localised response to the most suitable weather conditions for mating.
The Royal Society of Biology has been collecting records of these swarms in their flying ant survey for several years. The studies have revealed that flying ant day is a myth, it’s not just one synchronised 24 hour period. Flying ant activity can occur over several days or even weeks across the UK depending on the weather conditions. The study has also indicated that rising temperatures have led to swarms as early as June (instead of the usual end of July) and even as late as September if conditions are suitable.
Flying ants may well be a frustration whilst you try and enjoy a barbecue, picnic or a relaxing drink in the pub beer garden this summer, but they are also important to the environment – aerating soil, recycling nutrients and providing food for birds.
If however they are finding their way into your home here are some ant prevention tips:
- Block entry points by sealing cracks & crevices around doors, windows & pipework
- Sweep up food debris from under kitchen appliances and units
- Use a strong detergent to remove any pheromone trails foraging ants have laid down to direct other ants to a food source.
If you are worried about an ant infestation, you can give us a call and we can help.