A CLOUD of flying ants that hit the UK was so dense it could be seen in satellite images from space.
Here’s everything you need to know about the bizarre natural phenomenon…
The flying ant invasion occurs when they set off on their ‘nuptial flight’Credit: iStockphoto
What is Flying Ant Day?
A flying ant day usually occurs when a spell of wet weather is followed by hot humid weather.
Although referred to as a day, the mating ritual can last for several weeks in high summer.
By the end, billions of ants will have taken to the skies.
What are flying ants?
The most common type of flying ant is the black garden variety (the Lasius niger), whose nests have a single queen and anything from 5,000 to 15,000 workers.
Workers are the ants you see during most of the year, collecting food.
While workers, who are all female, live for around a month, queens can live for over 10 years.
They spend most of their lives in their nest – only leaving for the “nuptial flight” as immature queens to mate and ultimately found their own colony.
After mating, the queens lose their wings – and those pesky larger ants you see walking around alone are in fact new queens hunting for somewhere to set up their nest.
Flying ants are mostly harmless to humans, but they do have a strange effect on seagulls who can appear drunk after eating a few due to formic acid they expel.
Scientists suspect there’s a link between flying ants and the weatherCredit: Getty Images
Are flying ants dangerous?
While the sight of a huge swarm of insets can be scary, flying ants are pretty harmless to humans.
This is because they have their minds on one thing and one thing only – mating.
The flying ants in the UK rarely bite, but even if they do the NHS website says the bites “are generally harmless, although you’ll probably feel a nip
How long do flying ants live for?
Flying ants only live up to a couple of days after flying ant day.
This is why it is common to see hundreds of dead ants on footpaths and car bonnets after the event.
However, Queen ants can live up to 15 years – but they only spend a small portion of their lives and flying ants.
How do you get rid of flying ants?
Even though they’re harmless, flying ants are still annoying – but fortunately, there are many household items which can be used to get rid once and for all.
Spraying with dish-washing soap mixed with water can dehydrate the ants.
Although its effectiveness is debated, aspartame-based sweetener can also be used.
Combining it with juice to form a paste means the critters will carry it back to their colony – killing off some of the ant population in the process.
Distributing some insecticidal powder around window and door openings can also prevent the ants from entering your home.