Flying ant invaders arrive

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A sudden burst of sunshine and legions of ants, many of them flying, are suddenly swarming all over the borough.

Pest controllers have been hard at work as flying ants co-ordinate their hatchings with the recent warm spell.

There’s nothing really to worry about, but if you don’t like creepy-crawlies, it can be a bit of an ordeal.

Reader Geoff Walton from Hindley said: “We have got them everywhere outside our front door. My wife won’t go out. Those ones with wings give you the creeps.

“We have put some powder down and hope that’ll put pay to them.”

Paul Barton, Wigan Council’s assistant director for environment services, said: “At this time of year this phenomenon is to be expected.

“When the conditions are at their optimum, large swarms of flying ants will emerge from the ant colonies around the borough.

“As all the colonies in the area are experiencing the same weather conditions, the colonies will hit the same optimal conditions to produce these swarms hence the reason we get this, almost co-ordinated emergence of flying ants.”

Graham Workman, biodiversity manager for WLCT, said: “The ants that fly are the queens. They have hatched in an ants nest and then decide when is best to head out to breed. It all depends on the temperature.”

The queens head out to find a male to mate with before they drop to the ground and lose their wings in order to set up a new colony.

Graham says it may possibly have seemed worse this year as the weather has not been as warm as previous summers so all the queens came out on the first appropriate day.

He added that it was a myth that they all came out on the same day but said they tended to come out at a similar time so there was safety in numbers.

He said: “Ants are very important because they feed on lots of pests in the garden and also they bring out the birds who pick them off. They are also food for hedgehogs and other garden critters.

“That’s why they all come out together, because there is strength in numbers. They can be a pest but for most of the year they just live in the garden unnoticed by most so people shouldn’t harm them.”