Thursday 8 August 2013

Catching the wind

The last couple of weeks have witnessed increased activity of garden ants. It is the season when winged ants (males and queens) take to the air forming swarms. Today I noticed groups of queens emerging from a nest in the garden. The queens climbed over the plants, warmed up their wing muscles and took to the air. They often land straight away unless they can get high enough and ride the breeze. This was that this winged ant was doing, with head and antennae outstretched, it checked if it was the right time to fly. The dark clouds in the background are also typical of flying ant days, as the prefer stormy, warm weather to emerge.
The lucky ones will mate in the air and come back to the ground, lose their wings and find a suitable site to start a nest. Many will perish though, eaten by birds or spiders.
 If you notice flying ants where you live, you can submit your record to the Flying Ant Survey, organised by the Society of Biology. It only needs a couple of minutes to fill the form.

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