An amaz­ing day in the life of an ant

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News -

Fly­ing ants have made the na­tional me­dia in the last few weeks with dis­rup­tion on the ten­nis courts at Wim­ble­don. I would like to just give a short sum­mary of th­ese won­der­ful lit­tle crea­tures. There are around 45 species of ants in the UK. Fly­ing ants are the short lived winged males and the newly hatched queens which have emerged from an ant nest. This is their first and last flight and is called the nup­tial flight, where the queen ant, pic­tured, is fer­tilised. She then cre­ates a new nest/colony. The queen bites off or loses her wings and lays a few eggs and th­ese de­velop into ster­ile fe­male worker ants. Then her role is to lay eggs to build the ant colony and she doesn’t leave the nest. Over time the queen can lay large num­bers of eggs, from sperm stored from the males. Some­times she with­holds sperm from an egg and such un­fer­tilised eggs de­velop into males. On warm, muggy af­ter­noons and evenings large swarms of fly­ing ants can be seen. This phe­nom­e­non of a syn­chro­nised hatch or flight is sup­pose to max­imise ant colonies to mix and stop in­breed­ing. It is also a chance for gulls, star­lings and other birds to feast.

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Owen Leyshon, Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Part­ner­ship, tele­phone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk

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