Since the flying ant survey began, every year has brought surprises. In 2014 the surprise is the early appearance of the flying ants, and it will now be interesting to see whether they keep coming throughout the summer.
To celebrate the ants’ arrival, I have collected together some links to information and some photos kindly sent by flying ant survey participants. Thank you to everyone who is submitting records and sending photos and video clips. Keep them coming!
These photos are courtesy of Martin Rogers, and there are more to be seen on the survey’s Flickr profile. At the top right you can have a clear view of the queen ant (large, in the middle), the male ants (the small winged ants) and the workers (without wings). Here’s some information I’ve pulled together from different sources:
Flying ant day is a summer mating ritual – we have more information about why ants fly, and I explain the phenomenon in the second video below.
Most flying ants you see are the black garden ant – the same species as the workers you see throughout the year.
If you have seen gulls and swifts acting strangely recently it could be due to flying ants – they can be seen screeching and circling as they eat an airborne feast. Whether the gulls can get drunk on this is far more open for debate.
If you have seen flying ants this year it doesn’t mean that flying ant day is over and done with – it can happen on multiple days. The flying ant survey hasn’t revealed a single flying ant day – the pattern of ant appearances is much more complex. Professor Adam Hart explains more in the first video below.
If you saw a large wingless ant running around or digging into the soil at the end of a flying ant day, this was a new queen.