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Flying ant survey

Flying ants often seem to appear on the same day in different locations in the UK – flying ant day.

Ants aerate soil, help to cycle nutrients, improve garden fertility and control pests. Every colony starts with a flying ant - when young queens leave the nest to found their own colony.

However, after three years of our flying ant survey, we've found that flying ant day isn’t as predictable as we had at first thought – can you help us find out what happens this year?!

If you see flying ants this summer send us a picture of the ants and another of you holding an 'I just saw flying ants' sign, via Twitter or Facebook using #flyingantday or via email.
David sawflyingants 
 flying ant picture

Feel free to be creative with your pictures. You can download and print a sign, or you can make your own or use your tablet. We will share the best images and use the pictures and information we receive from budding biologists to create a video infographic mapping this summer's flying ant days.

Flying ants commonly appear on exactly the same day in different locations in the UK, but sometimes they come out over a period of days or even weeks. For the last three years we have been collecting records of flying ants, and this has revealed some surprising results.

Results from 2012 and from 2013 were announced during Biology Week. In 2013 we found a month of high flying ant activity, with four distinct peaks.

Thank you to everyone who submitted sightings in our formal surveys from 2012-14. The results of the three year survey will be published in 2015.

The appearance of thousands of flying ants is an amazing phenomenon, and you can read more about why ants fly or some general facts about flying ants. Flying ants are food for birds and spiders - you can read more on our blog.

This project is run in collaboration with Professor Adam Hart from the University of Gloucestershire and Christina Catlin-Groves from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Adam explains the results from the first two years of the flying ant survey in the video below. You can also hear Dr Rebecca Nesbit MRSB discuss the survey in a podcast.

Supporters of the flying ant survey may wish to vote in our poll to find the UK's favourite insect. You may also be interested in our free house spider identification app 'Spider in da house' which is available through the Android and Apple app stores. You can read information on common spider species seen indoors, and lots of spider facts.