Despite there not actually being an official ‘Flying Ant Day’ it is has been predicted to come a lot earlier this year. Usually the period of the somewhat irritating bugs lasts for around two weeks in July. It is likely you have noticed the phenomena in previous years when millions of ants take to the air on their ‘nuptial flight’. According to some sources over 50 billion could be headed to our skies this spring. Due to the ‘Beast from the East’ and the unseasonably warm weather, experts have predicted an early rise and huge surge in the number of ants in the country.
Speaking to Cambridge News a spokesman for Rentokil said “there has been a significant increase in ant activity across the UK as ant-related call outs increased 148 per cent from March to April…Last month’s period of clear skies and the hottest April day since 1949 may explain the surge in activity, as ants are typically more active in high temperatures and colonies use sunlight to navigate.”
“If the weather remains mild, Rentokil expects high levels of ant activity throughout the summer period. Ant life-cycles depend on temperature, and the amount of food available to them. Provided the Queen is healthy, and enough food is being brought back to the nest, ant eggs have a greater chance of survival. Ants can hatch after just three weeks, leading to increased breeding and larger colonies during prolonged warm periods.”
Now to the seagulls…It has been reported multiple times in Brighton that seagulls have been ‘drunk and disorderly’ when the ants come to the skies. Last year Four years ago The Telegraph interviewed Dr Rebecca Nesbit from the Society of Biology who said “Some of the slightly odd behaviour we are seeing could be as a result of these ants – it could leave the gulls slightly drunk. It’s possible because we know that some ants produce formic acid, and it could be having an effect. There have certainly been many, many more of them this summer. The gulls can also get very excited and loud when they eat the ants, so that could be a contributing factor.”
Ants nests have a single queen and typically around 5000 workers but they can often be three times that size. The ants we see on the ground all year round are mainly workers who are all female. The little bugs that take to the skies are the young queens and males who want to create new colonies and find a mate. Once they are far enough away from home to avoid inbreeding the new queens will choose a suitable partner…only if they don’t get eaten by the feasting seagulls first!