Thursday, 13 July 2017

Flying ant day: The real reason these winged insects take flight en masse

The things they’ll do for love... and why it’s not just one day a year 

A steady stream of black ants scurries busily in and out of a crack in the patio. They’ve been living there quietly for weeks. Perhaps you tried to get rid of them – especially if they were taking sugar from the kitchen or crawling across your bedroom. Perhaps you ignored them, or marvelled at their ability to navigate over apparently featureless paving stones back to their nest.

Then we have a spell of warm weather, a summer downpour, and when it stops there are winged explorers erupting from the ground – welcome to flying ant day!

But what exactly is flying ant day? For a start, it isn’t just one day. Recent surveys have shown that winged ants emerge over several weeks, although there are usually several large peaks. This is what happened in 2016, with many synchronised events in early August.

The Royal Society of Biology recently began working with entomologist Adam Hart from the University of Gloucester (who studies insects). He said: “Many people tend to think that there is one national flying ant day, and the media are keen to report it, but our research has shown that’s absolutely not the case. As in previous years, we have seen many ‘flying ant days’ across the country this summer.”

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