Flying ants launch garden invasion

A flying ant
A flying ant

THERE was finally some nice weather to be enjoyed on Sunday after what has been quite a drab summer so far.

But many of those who headed outside to make the most of it found their barbecues and picnics WERE interrupted by pesky flying ants.

The town was besieged by swarms of the normally flightless animals with people taking to social media to lament the addition to an otherwise lovely summers day.

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 is pretty normal to be honest and it happens every year a couple of times. It all depends on the temperature. They say it has been quite a dry summer but not here in Wigan.”

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: “They normally come out in July or August and it has to be warm but I think it is to do with humidity as well because they can fly better when it is dry.

“The queens go on to make new colonies but the males die not long after - they are just used and abused.

“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.”

Graham added that he had not seen the ants himself this year.

Wendy Forber Smith, from Pemberton, wrote on the Wigan Today Facebook page: ‘They’re everywhere, well they were until I killed them with Nippon’.

While Angie Carter-Bailey, from Leigh, wrote: ‘They were all over the lawn and the outside walls in the back garden and in the air bricks. It was horrible and found a few on my pipes near boiler in the kitchen’. Karren Duxbury, from Pemberton, ‘They were on my drive and porch nasty things’.