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Flying ants stop play

Some of the world’s best tennis players recently found their games at Wimbledon interrupted by flying ants, as our warm summer led to an earlier than normal flying ant day.

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. This is an important phase in the reproduction of ant species.

During the first week of the Wimbledon tournament, players were distracted by the flying insects with American Sam Querrey, the No 24 seed, dropping a set as the insects plagued Court 18 whilst British player Johanna Konta said:

“There were many. It was interesting. It kind of went in stages. At one point, there was a lot then towards the end of the match I don’t think there were that many.

“But I have definitely taken home a few, both in in my belly and in my bags.”

The most common type of “flying ant” is the black garden variety; they come from nests with a single queen and between 5,000 to 15,000 worker ants. The ants you see on the ground are usually female workers who live for about a month as adults. Flying ants which appear once a year are males or young queens.

Queens can live for more than 10 years and spend most of their lives in their nest but new queens will leave to mate and find a colony of their own. This is when the “nuptial flight” takes place as ants mate during flight.

The large numbers of flying ants which appear in a short space of time increase the chance of reproduction as 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 lose their wings, are often seen walking around on their own as they look for somewhere to set up their nest.

“Flying ant day is not a new phenomenon, it’s just something that has been highlighted recently by social media and TV coverage,” said Martin Harvey, managing director at Harvey Environmental Services. “It occurs every July or August and can actually last up to a few weeks, depending on the location of the ants, the species, local climate and other factors.

“Whilst the flying ants can be annoying, they’re not normally a problem that needs to be treated by pest controllers as their period of flight is so short. Other species of ants, however, are often best dealt with by professionals. Pharaoh’s ants, who make often inaccessible nests in centrally heated blocks of flats and Ghost ants, who also prefer warm buildings, should be removed by fully qualified pest control technicians.”

If you are concerned about a nest of ants in your premises, please contact us on 01282 866554 or email enquiries@harveyenviro.com