Flying Ants Day 2018 has arrived: What is it and why does it happen?

5 July 2018, 10:21

Flying ants
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Flying Ant Day is here and will continue to be something of a menace in this hot weather.

They are only around for a short while each year, so what is it all about and where do these little guys come from?

When is Flying Ant Day?

There is no set day each year, but it usually happens in July or August. Hot weather can also speed up the process, and may occur even earlier.

For 2018, it appears to have landed on July 4, but they will continue to be around for the next few weeks.

What are flying ants?

Flying ants
Picture: Getty

Ants will sprout wings when a Queen ant is searching for a new partner to mate with, and start up a new colony.

Once she has done this, she leaves the nest to move away from her colony to prevent cross-breeding. Various worker male ants also leave in search of a Queen ant to mate with.

Only young male ants and young queens can sprout wings, and once they have mated the Queen will lose its wings and attempt to start up a new nest. The poor male ant usually dies.

Can flying ants bite you?

Thankfully, flying ants are harmless, and are very unlikely to bite you, in the same manner of other wingless ants you might spot in your garden.

While some flying ants have been known to bite or sting people, this isn’t very common with those seen in the UK.

Make sure to keep windows and doors closed if you'd rather they didn't enter your home. But with the hot weather that might be tricky, so maybe get yourself some netting or a fly screen.

Also, look out for seagulls

Seagull
Picture: Getty

It might sound random, but anyone who lives near beach towns should look out for erratic seagulls during this period.

Why? Because seagulls have been known to "get drunk" while feasting on flying ants.

Dr Rebecca Nesbit, an entomologist with the Society of Biology, says that the ants produce formic acid which can "stupefy" the seagulls.

She said the amount eaten could explain why the birds were not flying away from danger in the way they normally would.

Woodingdean wildlife expert Roger Musselle said: "I think they probably just like the flavour. It's fairly normal this time of year for it to happen because of the weather conditions. As soon as the flying ants come out you can see the gulls circling. They will go on to the grass or nearer roads where they can get to the ants."