We all know the sensation when those flying ants appear in the heat and how difficult it can be to handle them.
But did you know that these massive ants appear the same day across the country?
Well, it has been dubbed the National Day of the Flying Ants and is one that we don't want to celebrate.
In fact, you may have already noticed that some of the flies buzz around, and it can usually last a few weeks, until a specific day when millions of them come out.
Usually that day falls in July. Here you have everything you need to know about the great invasion of flying ants.
Why do flying ants leave the same day?
National Flying Ant Day is when female and female ants sprout wings and venture out of their nests on a "bridal flight", looking for ants from other colonies to mate.
According to the Biology Society, bridal flight is an important phase in the reproduction of ant species. During the flight, the virgin queens mate with males and then land to start a new colony.
Flying ants (Image: iStockphoto)
The flying ants found in your city or garden are almost certainly the black garden variety, the Lasius niger. Their nests have only one queen and usually around 5,000 workers, although there may be up to 15,000.
The ants seen during most of the year are workers who collect food for the colony. All workers are women and will be alive as adults for about a month. The flying ants you see once a year are young males and queens.
Queens can live more than 10 years and spend most of their lives in their nest. The new queens, however, will stop mating and find their own colony.
"Bridal flight" is the reason why ants fly. Ants mate during the flight, so young males and queens have wings. If you look carefully at the flying ants you will see that some are much larger; These are the queens.
Why are there so many flying ants?
The large number of flying ants that appear in a short space of time increases the possibility of reproduction: there is a great possibility that a queen meets a male from another nest.
Once the immature males and queens have mated, the queens try to start a new nest. The queens lose their wings, and after a "Day of the flying ants", sometimes you can see large ants walking alone. These are new queens looking for a place to set up their nest.
They are often seen in Wimbledon (Image: Rex Features)
When is Flying Ant Day?
There is no exact date every year, but the day of the flying ant usually falls in July. It is thought that it is when a humid climate is closely followed by a warm and humid climate, and queen ants take this as a signal to look for males to mate with.
"Recent surveys have shown that winged ants emerge for several weeks, although there are usually several large peaks," Dr. Christopher Terrell-Nield of the University of Nottingham Trent wrote in an article for The Conversation.
"Since the swarm is triggered by temperature and often occurs after summer rain, ants in a large area may appear the same day if conditions are similar."
The Royal Society of Biology is studying why this phenomenon occurs, investigating what weather conditions encourage ants to fly.
"After four years of our flying ants survey, we have discovered that the day of flying ants is not as predictable as we had thought at the beginning," the group said.
Beware of seagulls
While it may seem that it has no relationship, those having fun in the coastal cities should be on guard against the crazy seagulls during the Day of the Flying Ant. This is because it has been reported that seagulls have been "getting drunk" partying with flying ants.
In previous years, scores of seagulls had seen themselves congregate on the roads, taking little care of the cars that were launched towards them. They have also been seen stomping the ground in the parks with the hope of putting their favorite snacks.
A seagull is represented on June 22, 2019. (Image: Getty Images)
Dr. Rebecca Nesbit, entomologist at the Biology Society, said that ants produce formic acid that can "stun" seagulls. She said the amount consumed could explain why the seagulls were not flying away from danger quickly.
This led some to fear an increase in seagull attacks, but Roger Musselle, a wildlife expert at Woodingdean, said they were more likely to be hit by cars.
"I think they probably like the taste," he said. "It is quite normal at this time of year to happen due to weather conditions.
"As soon as the flying ants leave, you can see the seagulls circling. They will go to the grass or to nearby roads where they can reach the ants."
How to get rid of flying ants.
While flying ants do not pose a great danger to people, apart from being very annoying, here are six tips that will help you confront small creatures.
1. Spray the ants with dish soap.
Dishwashing soap is an effective agent against flying ants, as it adheres to their bodies and dehydrates them. Get a spray bottle to catch the little creatures in flight and mix two generous jets of liquid to wash dishes with water.
2. Catch them with adhesive tape.
Attract small things with a food source and place masking tape as close as possible with the adhesive side up.
3. Attack the ants with an artificial sweetener.
Certain types of sweeteners are very toxic to ants. For example, if you mix the sweetener with apple juice, a viscous paste forms that the ants will transport to the colony. Once consumed there, it will kill a portion of its population.
4. Use insecticide powder
An insecticidal lacquer can be applied around the door sills or the joints of walls and floors where the ants run, or spray these areas with an insecticidal spray that is labeled for this use.
5. Place cans on the hill of ants
This should be done in the morning. As it heats up, the ants carry their eggs to the can. In the afternoon, slide a piece of cardboard under each can, and remove and discard the eggs. They make a good gift for birds, especially chickens.
6. Pour boiling water into the anthill.
Once you have located the hill of ants, pour boiling water over it. This should kill most ants and prevent others from returning.
However, keep in mind when killing flying ants that are really good for outdoor environments. They soil the soil, help cycle nutrients, improve garden fertility and control pests.
Flying ants also provide a vital food resource for many bird species, particularly swifts and seagulls.
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