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Flying ant survey

150802 ants Shropshire Richard PrewFlying 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. Most ant colonies start with a flying ant - when young queens leave the nest to found their own colony.

However, after five years of our flying ant survey, we have found that flying ant day isn’t as predictable as we had at first thought. David sawflyingants

If you see flying ants during the summer months, send us a picture of the ants and another of you holding an 'I just saw flying ants' sign, via Twitter or Facebook using #flyingantsurvey or via email.

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 share the best images and use the pictures and information we receive from budding biologists to create video infographics mapping this summer's flying ant days. See the videos from 2016 and 2015 below!
On 2016's sightings Professor Adam Hart FRSB, the University of Gloucestershire said: "Many people tend to think that there is one national flying ant day, and the media are keen to report it, but our research has shown that’s absolutely not the case. As in previous years we have seen many ‘flying ant days’ across the country this summer.”

“However, Summer 2016 did see plenty of very coordinated flights in early August, with reports from Glasgow, Liverpool, Cornwall, Kent and even the Netherlands coming in on one day alone.”                                               

On 2015's sightings Professor Hart said: “Like 2014, we had a nice summer and, like last year, we saw a few flying days over the summer in lots of places. But even then, there seems to be a few ant-tastic days where, love them or hate them, you certainly couldn’t avoid them! It’s great to see so many people taking to social media to report their sightings and add to our growing knowledge of this fascinating annual event.”

Results from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 were announced during Biology Week. The results of our formal three year survey (2012-14) will be published in 2017.

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.

This project is run in collaboration with Professor Adam Hart from The University of Gloucestershire. 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.

The Royal Society of Biology and The University of Gloucestershire would like to thank everyone who takes part in the flying ant survey.

Supporters of the flying ant survey may also be interested in our seasonal allergy project and citizen science app #BritainBreathing - keep track of your symptoms and help scientists find out more about how pollution, weather and pollen affect seasonal allergies like hayfever and asthma.

You may also like to download 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.