Flying ants

Today was the first day for a mass emergence of flying ants: that’s about three weeks later than it ‘usually’ happens here.

As the winged ants emerge, they climb up anything they can find to get as high as possible before taking to the air.
As the winged ants emerge, they climb up anything they can find to get as high as possible before taking to the air.

For a couple of weeks, the smaller male winged ants have been creeping out of cracks and crevices, only to be dragged back in by the regular worker ants. Today, the time was right and the boys got their freedom.

You can see the size difference here between the big females (new queens) and considerably smaller, but very keen, males.
You can see the size difference here between the big females (new queens) and considerably smaller, but very keen, males.

The ants are ‘supposed’ to mate in the air, but they’re quite happy to do it anywhere…

Ants mating on a sun chair
Ants mating on a sun chair – the little male is round the back.

Once mated, the new queen sheds her wings and scurries around looking for a new place to start her own colony.

Newly mated queen ant without her wings.
Newly mated queen ant without her wings.
Flying ants caught in spider's web
Flying ants caught in a spider’s web

Happily, thanks to the birds and the spiders, not all the flying ants make it to start new colonies.

The Society of Biology have an interesting pdf factsheet about flying ants available to download here.

 

 

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