Flying ant survey underway
Scientists from the Society of Biology are attempting to count the number of places flying ants appear in the UK as they swarm across the country during mating flights.
The seasonal appearance of these insects occurs when they begin their mating flight, in their first step to found a new colony. The males and potential queens are the winged ants seen during the summer months, and after mating the females will lose their wings and attempt to found a new colony.
It is of high importance that the flights between nests are synchronised; however, the details about how the ants know when to fly remain a mystery. The survey, running throughout July and August, may help to make sense of it by charting the appearance of the ants.
Dr Downs, the Society of Biology's chief executive, explained: "The flying ants won't survive very long and need to maximise the chances of meeting ants from other colonies to mate with. But how do they do it?
"Do flying ants appear at a very similar time each year, determined by the ants' biology, or is there a lot of flexibility in response to external conditions such as weather?"
The results will be announced during National Biology Week in October
Flying ant-spotters are being asked to submit their sightings throughout July and August on the Society of Biology's website.