The Society of Biology’s former press officer and entomology enthusiast, Dr Rebecca Nesbit, appeared on The One Show yesterday to discuss ‘flying ant day’.
During BBC’s The One Show, famed for showcasing stories from around the United Kingdom (and for its very catchy theme tune), Dr Nesbit discussed flying ant days and the reasons behind them, with fellow insect enthusiast George McGavin.
Flying ants can be a nuisance during summer months, but data collected by the Society of Biology's Flying Ant Survey will help to discover why flying ant days occur, and if we might be able to predict them.
Dr Nesbit explained that worker ants don't have wings but on one day a year the queen will produce winged males and queens, whose job is not to collect food for the colony, but to mate.
"The males then die, while the females go and start their own colonies on the strength of just one mating", Dr Nesbit explained. Suggested reasons for the rare phenomenon include increasing chances of mating and confusing predators.
It was also revealed that there is not just one flying ant day a year as the name suggests. In fact there have been two flying ant days so far this year, compared to four days in 2013.
The appearance of thousands of flying ants is an amazing phenomenon, please read more about why ants fly or some general facts about flying ants. Flying ants are also food for birds and spiders - you can read more on our blog.
Don’t forget to report your flying ant sightings and send photos to Natasha Little. Get involved on Twitter using the hashtag #flyingantsurvey or tag it on Flickr using ‘flyingantsurvey’ and it will be uploaded to our Flickr group.
The annual Flying Ant Survey is now in its third year. It was launched in June 2012 by the Society of Biology in a collaboration with Professor Adam Hart from the University of Gloucestershire and Christina Catlin-Groves from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.