University of Leeds asks public to report Flying Ant Day sightings in bid to understand strange annual event

Flying Ant Day is upon us, with Leeds residents reporting winged insects appearing on driveways, in gardens and whizzing through the air.

And University of Leeds researchers are asking the public to report flying ants sightings across the UK to understand the correlation of weather to this strange phenomenon.

Species of ants such as the Lasius Niger (black garden ant) are generally found underground. However, during their mating season, the ants are seen flying to mate and search for a new place to live. This period only spans a few days per year, after which, they make their way underground again. The new queen ants are never spotted above ground again.

Interestingly, there is not enough information to explain why ants suddenly take to air together in the strange annual phenomenon. Therefore, researchers from the University of Leeds are inviting people to fill out a short survey to collect data for their study “When and where do ants fly?”. 

This study is part of the BioDAR project, which is led by researchers from the University of Leeds, University of Exeter, and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. This project aims to determine if weather radar data can be used to monitor insect activity across the whole UK and Ireland. 

The objective of the flying ants study within this project seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What specific weather conditions are important for triggering 'flying ant day'?
  2. Can flying ant swarms be seen on weather radar scans? 

To participate in this survey, click here

Further Information

For any questions about the survey, contact Dr Elizabeth Duncan.

Picture credit: Wolfgang Hasselmann/Unsplash