10 facts about
Find out why ants take to the skies!
Have you been caught up in a swarm of flying ants this summer? And is there really a special ‘flying ant day’? Read on to discover more…
1. Flying ants are just normal ants – with wings!
The ants we’re most used to seeing are female black garden ants, marching around collecting food. But during summer, winged males and new queens of the same species take flight!
2. They fly to set up new ant colonies
The ants take to the skies so that queens can mate with males from different colonies, and set up new nests of their own.
3. Flying ants only swarm during hot summer weather
For a swarm of ants to occur, conditions must be just right – they’re usually triggered by hot and humid weather in July or August.
4. ‘Flying ant day’ is a myth
Because so many ants appear in the same place at the same time, the phenomenon is often known as ‘flying ant day’ – but it’s really more of a short flying ant season. Depending on weather, the winged insects may appear in different parts of the country any time between June and September.
5. There’s safety in numbers
The reason the ants appear in such big numbers is that it helps protects them from predators. Flying all together all at once also gives them a much better chance of finding mates.
6. They’re harmless
These flying beasties might be super annoying, but they won’t hurt you. Plus they provide loads of extra food for hungry birds!
7. Tennis stars hate them!
In 2018, flying ants invaded the court at Wimbledon, distracting tennis players and making news headlines around the world!
8. Female flying ants are bigger than males
Brave enough to take a closer look? You’ll see that some of the winged ants are much larger than others. The bigger ones are the queens – they’re up to 15mm in length.
9. Queens bite their own wings off!
After mating, queens chew off their wings and crawl around looking for a place to dig a new nest. Look out for their discarded wings on the floor!
10. Flying ants are also called alates
Alates is the name given to the winged form of many insects.
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Want to know more?
Ants are one of the world’s strongest creatures! Head to our amazing ant facts for the lowdown!
Picture credit: GettyImages-464197765