Wednesday, 17 July 2013

First Flight of 2013

Scientists call for records of flying ants this summer
The Society of Biology is calling for records of flying ants to be submitted online at Last year they received over 6,000 reports of flying ants and hope to beat this in 2013. The 2012 flying ant survey unexpectedly revealed two flying ant days, but will this be the same in 2013?
Professor Adam Hart from the University of Gloucestershire is part of the 2nd year of the flying ant survey. He says: “Each summer flying ants erupt from the ground seemingly without warning, as new queens leave the nest to mate and found their own colonies.
“They often emerge simultaneously over large parts of the country, and many people know this as ‘flying ant day’, but we wanted to find out whether there really is one single day. Interestingly, in 2012 there were two main flying ant days, two weeks apart. But is this the same in other years?
“The time between the two peaks was a period of low pressure, which is usually associated with clouds, wind and rain. It could be that this weather kept some flying ants in their nests waiting for a suitable day, in which case we may not see the double peak again this year.”
Most flying ants we are seeing at the moment are the black garden ant (Lasius niger). Despite its size, the black garden ant has a huge impact on our countryside, from improving soil to pollination and pest control. They are also important as food; last year survey participants reported gulls and swifts feasting on the flying ants.
Much of what we know about ants comes from experiments which scientists can perform. Collecting information about ant emergences around the UK, however, relies on lots of people submitting their records
The Society of Biology is asking everyone who sees flying ants in 2013 to make a note of the time, date, location and weather conditions, and submit records through an online survey Anyone who takes photos of flying ants can share them by emailing Christina Catlin-Groves ( Pictures and experiences can also be shared on Twitter using the hashtag #flyingantsurvey, and photos tagged ‘flyingantsurvey’ on Flickr will be uploaded to our Flickr group. Anyone who wants to send in a flying ant for positive identification can sign up for a sample tube at, funded by the Royal Entomological Society.

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