Return of the Flying Ants
Signs of Summer
Patchy sunburn, 99’s, picnics and the sounds of a lawnmower are all the hallmarks of a normal Irish summer. But when you work in the pest control industry you start to notice different signs of summer.
For example, we notice the fact that there are more flies and wasps disrupting your picnics, we notice the seagulls who are actively trying to steal those 99’s and we’re thinking of the ways that we can prevent these seasonal scourges from disrupting your summer any more.
Every year we experience a spike in call outs during the summer months for specific pests including (but not limited to), bed bugs, wasps and flies. But one pest that is guaranteed to make a dramatic return every year is the dreaded flying ant.
Everyone’s talking about flying ants
If you use social media apps like Twitter and Facebook you may have seen some of the chatter that happens around the same time every year when flying ants make their annual appearance, and they aren’t popular.
Flying ants can be very intimidating and invasive when they swarm in huge numbers and although they are mainly seen outdoors, you will find them indoors occasionally. So what’s their deal?
Well what many people don’t realise is that flying ants are actually just common Black Garden Ants that leave their colony to mate.
In anticipation of their upcoming flight we asked our technical team to go through the science behind this annual phenomenon.
The Scientific Stuff
Technical Field Consultant Richard Faulkner tells us all we need to know about flying ants on Newstalk 106-108fm this July. You can listen to the full interview here.
What conditions do they need to fly?
“The close humid weather that usually experience in Ireland in the later summer months provides ideal conditions for Lasius niger (the black garden ant) to start their ‘nuptial flight’ which is also known as mating on the wing.”
Why are there so many of them?
“During nuptial flight, a mixture of large and small flying ants will suddenly exit the colony and take to the air. The larger ants are the immature queens and the smaller ants are the males.
The nuptial flights are usually synchronised with the flight of ants from neighbouring colonies. These nuptial flights can contain thousands of winged individuals in the air at the same time which is quite a spectacle to behold.”
When does it happen?
“The nuptial flight season can start as early as mid May but will be most active during the months of July and August when there are prolonged periods of favourable weather conditions. It is during this time when ant colonies swarm and the nuptial flight occurs that these nuisance pests are at their most obvious.”
What happens after mating?
“After mating, the winged ants come back to the ground. The males will live for another couple of days and then die, their job being done and purpose fulfilled. For the Queens, on the other hand life is just getting started. The queens remove their wings and dig a tunnel in which they over- winter. This is the start of a new colony.”
What else can you tell us about Black Garden Ants?
“Queen Ants can live up to fifteen years. On average a Black Garden Ant colony will contain between four thousand and seven thousand workers. It is possible for colonies to reach a size of forty thousand workers when food is in abundance and weather conditions are favourable. Colonies will begin foraging again as early as January.”
So, how do we stop flying ants getting into our homes and businesses?
Well although most ants will be found outdoors, ants nests can be found in a number of locations, in and around the home, such as in cavity walls, under flag stones and patios.
Most ants come into your home to forage for food so to avoid an ant invasion in your home, check out our infestation prevention tips below;
- Clear up– food and liquid spillages as they occur
- Sweep up– any food crumbs
- Store your food– in airtight containers wherever possible
- If you have a pet– clear away any food that isn’t eaten straight away
- Block off– the entry points for ants by sealing all cracks and crevices around your doors and window frames
- In the garden– keep your compost enclosed and make sure all rubbish bins have tightly sealed lids
If you see flying ants over the next few weeks we’d love to hear about it. Tweet us your #flyingantexperience to @Rentokil_PestIE