Pestforce Latest News: Pest or Best No. 2: The Flying Ant

Pest or Best No. 2: The Flying Ant

Mass movements of flying insects have always struck fear in the hearts of men. Perhaps it’s the fact that a creature so small can turn into such a destructive force when combined with its brethren insects, destroying crops and spreading disease at nightmarish speeds. From the plagues of locusts that destroyed biblical Egypt to the modern day mosquito colonies which continue to wreak havoc across much of the developing world, flying insects in large numbers are a hands down pest to humanity. Or are they…

Well at least, this could be argued as the case in the UK. We don’t tend to get the mass movements of insects that can terrorize our global counterparts. Indeed, the closest we get to is perhaps the yearly upsurge of flying ants! No different to the common garden ant you see throughout the spring and summer months, male ants will grow wings in the summer months and will take flight on certain days of the year to find a mate. The date of their flight is unpredictable…right up until the very last moment, as the weather conditions have to be perfect – warm temperatures to enable flight and humid, muggy conditions to ensure the ants can burrow back into the ground after doing the deed! Often described as one of the animal kingdom’s most interesting mating rituals, a male flying ant will seek a mate before fertilising its partner mid-flight. As a male ant’s sole purpose is to mate, its genitals will gruesomely explode inside the female, a short time after which he will drop to the ground and die. The queen ant, on the other hand, can live up to 15 years, and will burrow herself in the ground following the mating ritual to start a new colony.

And while the above will happen on a mass scale - appear as an ‘infestation’ to the beholder, these flying ant flare-ups only occur 3 or 4 times each summer. In 2014, for example, there were only 4 reported waves of flying ants between June and September. Classed as an incidental rather than sustained nuisance, do flying ants really deserve the status as pests? Their swarms equally play a crucial role in our ecosystem – pollinating flowers, improving soil and feeding on other pests that present a greater risk to us!

For more information on flying ants, or any other pest advice, call one of our qualified Pestforce technicians today.