When is Flying Ant Day 2017?

Advice on how to get rid of them

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Every year, huge flying ants appear on the same day in different locations in the UK - a phenomenon known as national Flying Ant Day.

Some people might have already noticed some of the creatures buzzing around. This is because the flying ant period can last a few weeks, but usually builds up to a specific day when millions of flying ants come out at the same time all over the country.

See also: Video shows ants carrying injured nestmate home

See also: Dangerous STD-carrying ladybirds invading UK homes

Last year, social media was flooded with posts by people claiming to be "creeped out" by the invasion of flying ants over Britain, and the same is expected to occur again very soon.

Here's everything you need to know in preparation for the great flying ant invasion.

Credits: Getty

Invasion: Swarm of flying ants reported over Britain

What is Flying Ant Day and why does it occur?

National Flying Ant Day is when male and female ants sprout wings and venture out of their nests on a "nuptial flight", seeking ants from other colonies to mate with.

According to the Society of Biology , nuptial flight is an important phase in the reproduction of the ant species. During the flight, virgin queens mate with males and then land to start a new colony.

Credits: Getty

Yellow Meadow Ant

The flying ants you encounter in your town or garden are almost certainly the black garden variety, the Lasius niger. Their nests have a single queen and typically around 5,000 workers, although there can be as many as 15,000.

The ants you see throughout most of the year are workers, collecting food for the colony. Workers are all female and will be alive as adults for about a month. The flying ants you see once a year are males and young queens.

Queens can live for over 10 years and spend most of their lives in their nest. New queens, however, will leave to mate and found a colony of their own.

The 'nuptial flight' is why ants fly. Ants mate during flight, so males and young queens both have wings. If you look carefully at flying ants you will see that some are much larger; these are the queens.

The large numbers of flying ants which appear in a short space of time increase the chance of reproduction: there is a very high chance a queen will encounter a male from another nest.

Once the males and immature queens have mated, the queens then try to start a new nest. The queens lose their wings, and after a 'Flying Ant Day' you can sometimes see large ants walking around on their own. These are new queens looking for somewhere to set up their nest.

When is it?

There's no exact date every year, but flying ant day usually falls in July. It is thought to be when a spell of wet weather is followed closely by hot humid weather, and Queen ants take their cue from the weather to seek males to mate with.

Flying ants in Wrexham

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 ant survey, we have found that flying ant day isn't as predictable as we had at first thought," the group said.

Professor Adam Hart FRSB at the University of Gloucestershire said: "With 2016 already proving to be a wet one, it will be interesting to see whether we get a repeat of 2012, when most of the flights were compressed into just a couple of days in July and August between the rain.

"Of course, if it clears up we may see a repeat of the beautiful 'pulsing' pattern of 2014, with regular flights every couple of weeks."

Beware of the seagulls

While it might seem quite unrelated, those frolicking about beach towns should be on guard against crazy seagulls during Flying Ant Day. This is because it's been reported seagulls have been "getting drunk" feasting on flying ants.

Credits: getty

Scientists are launching a bird-brained way of tackling Britain's seagull menace using psychologists

According to The Argus, scores of seagulls were seen congregating in Brighton across roads, caring little for the cars hurtling towards them. They were also spotted stomping the ground in parks hoping to tuck into their favourite snacks.

Dr Rebecca Nesbit, an entomologist with the Society of Biology, has said the ants produce formic acid which can "stupefy" the gulls. She said the amount eaten could explain why gulls were not flying away from danger quickly.

This led some to fear an increase in seagull attacks, but Woodingdean wildlife expert Roger Musselle said they were more more likely to get hit by cars.

"I think they probably just like the flavour," he said. "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."

While the flying ants don't pose much danger to people in the UK - other than being very annoying - here are six top tips to help you tackle the little creatures head-on.How to get rid of them

1. Spray the ants with dishwashing soap

Dishwashing soap is an effective agent against flying ants, as it attaches to their bodies and dehydrates them. Get yourself a spray bottle to catch the little creatures in flight and mix two generous squirts of dish washing liquid with water.

2. Catch them with sticky tape

Lure the little things in with a food source and place some tape as close as possible with the sticky side up.

3. Attack ants with an artificial sweetener

Certain types of sweeteners are very toxic for ants. For example, if you mix in the sweetener with apple juice, it forms a viscous paste that the ants will carry back to the colony. Once consumed there, it will kill off a portion of their population.

4. Use insecticidal powder

An insecticidal lacquer can be applied around door thresholds or wall and floor junctions where ants run, or spray these areas with an insecticidal aerosol which is labelled for this use.

5. Place tin cans over the ant hill

This should be done in the morning. As it heats up, the ants take their eggs up into the can. In the afternoon slide a piece of cardboard under each can, and remove and dispose of the eggs. They make a nice treat for birds, especially chickens.

6. Pour boiling water into the ant hill

Once you have located the ant hill, pour boiling water over it. This should kill most of the ants and detract other ones from coming back.

Credits: Twitter

Flying ants: People have taken to social media to report the invasion over Britain

However, keep in mind when killing flying ants that they are actually good for outdoor environments. They aerate soil, help to cycle nutrients, improve garden fertility and control pests.

Flying ants also provide a vital food resource for many species of birds, particularly swifts and gulls.

World's deadliest insects

World's deadliest insects


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