It can be lovely when we have warm weather – but it brings with it something far less pleasant: swarms of flying ants.
They seem to occur at the same time everywhere in the UK when the weather warms up, because the warm air and long nights make perfect conditions for young queen ants to leave the nest to mate and then start their own colony.
Each year, normally in July or August, huge numbers of flying ants – males and young queens – suddenly appear on a ‘nuptial flight’. They are simply regular ants – probably black garden ants – that develop wings during the mating season and then mate during flight.
Ants, like all creatures, have a purpose in our eco-system, and we have listed some reasons to love them below. However, we also understand that they can be considered a pest so we have also provided some tips for dealing with them.
Reasons to love flying ants
- They’re predators and scavengers who will eat insects, spiders and other small invertebrates.
- Flying ants provide a vital food resource for many species of birds, particularly swifts and gulls.
- When a female finds an ant to mate with, she’ll play kiss-chase by flying away from the male. But rather than being a tease, she’s simply ensuring her suitor is fit and fast enough to catch her.
- Their flying swarms disappear within a day.
- Ants have the largest brains of all insects and are strong enough to carry up to seven times their own body weight.
How to deal with swarms of flying ants
Spray the ants with dishwashing soap
Dishwashing soap is an effective agent against flying ants as it attaches to their bodies and dehydrates them. Get yourself a spray bottle to catch the little creatures in flight and mix two generous squirts of dishwashing liquid with water.
Baking soda and sugar
Mix equal parts baking soda and icing sugar. Place small amounts in areas you expect ants to locate, including suspected points of entry or frequented hangouts. The combination of these ingredients can help to completely get rid of flying ants by exterminating the source – the nest. While baking soda is safe for humans it is toxic to ants. The sugar attracts the ants to the mixture and they can take it back to the nest. The ants die when they digest the baking soda and sugar.
Pour boiling water into the anthill
Once you have located the anthill, pour boiling water over it. This should kill most of the ants and detract other ones from coming back.
Buy an ant killer
DIY shops often sell a range of insecticides specifically for ants, such as sprays, powders and bait boxes. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging and make sure you don’t use them near young children or pets as they could be harmful to them.