Thursday, 3 August 2017

Viewpoint: Is there such a thing as 'flying ant day'?

By Prof Adam HartUniversity of Gloucestershire
18 July 2017

We're all used to ants sprouting wings and taking to the air during summer, but is there really such a thing as a "flying ant day"? A new study appears to have solved the mystery, using data submitted by the public. Here, Prof Adam Hart, one of the report's authors, explains how they did it.

No one can guarantee a rain-free Bank Holiday weekend or a sun-drenched Wimbledon but, no matter what the summer weather brings, you can guarantee that flying ants will make their annual appearance at some point.

Flying ants are a bit of a surprise for many people. After all, the ants we are used to seeing under stones in our gardens don't have wings and cannot fly. These wingless ants are female workers, toiling to ensure the colony survives and grows.

Once the colony has grown large enough though, it can stop investing in growth and start investing in reproduction. The problem for ants is that workers cannot start a new colony; for that you need a larger, fertile, "queen" ant that has mated with a male from a different colony.

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