Flying ants can be one of the most difficult and annoying pests to keep under control. A downside of the warmer weather, these flying beasts normally appear around July, but this year it’s happening earlier, with billions of the pests set to plague our homes.
The unusually warm Spring weather is being blamed for boosting insect numbers, with experts predicting “Flying Ant Day” – when they all appear apparently out of nowhere – will occur in June, rather than in July.
Pest controller Rentokil has reported an increase of almost 150 per cent in call-outs to deal with ant infestations in March and April.
A spokesman said: “There has been a significant increase in ant activity across the UK.
“Ant-related call outs increased 148 percent from March to April.
“Experts believe the rise could be attributed to the unseasonably warm start to the Spring – after experiencing record-breaking warm weather in April.
“Last month’s period of clear skies and the hottest April day since 1949 may explain the surge in activity, as ants are typically more active in higher temperatures and colonies use sunlight to navigate.”
Assuming the weather remains mild, Rentokil is anticipating higher levels of ant activity through summer.
The spokesman added: “Ant life-cycles depend on temperature, and the amount of food available to them.
“Provided the Queen is healthy, and enough food is being brought back to the nest, ant eggs have a greater chance of survival.”
Despite its name, Flying Ant Day usually lasts about two weeks.
David Cross, head of the technical training academy at Rentokil Pest Control, said: “Last month we saw reported ant infestations rise to levels we wouldn’t usually expect until June or July.
“It’s rare to see ant infestations in cold or overcast weather, and while the ‘Beast from the East’ may have caused them to remain dormant in March, the sudden change in temperature has since brought them out in their droves.
“This trend could be set to continue throughout the rest of the summer.”
The website of the Amateur Entomologists’ Society explains: “Ant colonies produce winged sexuals and these individuals found new colonies. In order to start a new colony the new queens (or gynes) must mate.
“When environmental conditions are right, winged males and females leave all the ant colonies within an area. They then take to the air on a nuptial flight and mate.
“Some people incorrectly believe that these winged ants are a different species from the ants in the colonies that they are more familiar with.
“This is not the case, the winged ants are the same species but are winged so that they can disperse and find a mate.”
What precautions should be taken
While the flying ants don’t pose much danger to people in the UK – other than being very annoying, something you may wish to consider in addition to keeping doors and windows closed is to distribute some insecticidal powder around window and door openings which can prevent the ants from entering your home.
Rentokil has further advice on how to deal with flying ants