April 22nd, 2021 by
If you have never heard of ‘flying ant day’ we can bet you’re thinking it’s not an occasion to look forward to, and you wouldn’t be wrong! So-called flying ant day refers to a time around late spring or early summer when swarms of flying ants suddenly appear, often finding their way into your home. In actual fact, this period often lasts for longer than a day; it can be up to a couple of weeks.
Why do ants appear in this way?
It’s all part of the ant life cycle. These ants are single and ready to mingle, looking to mate! It appears that the male ants are looking for a good time, not a long time as once mated with a queen, the male ants die, and the queens snap off their wings and start looking for somewhere to build a colony. It’s not clear what specifically triggers it happening, but it’s likely related to a sustained period of warmer weather. As the UK is small, the flying ant outbreaks tend to sweep across the country over a period of a few weeks.
It’s not flying ant day you need to worry about; it’s what comes after
As unpleasant as it may be to be surrounded by thousands of flying ants, it’s the colony building you really need to be concerned about because hungry ant mouths require a food source and, having seen off their baby daddies, those queens are looking to you to provide ant-support! Scout ants are dispatched to find food for the colony. If they get into your home, they will leave a pheromone trail which then signposts the way back for the worker ants to come and help themselves whenever they want.
Can you prevent ants from using your home as a food source?
Realistically, not really: ants are well equipped to find their way in. After all, they are small, have strong jaws, are very resourceful, and have the advantage of numbers (a single colony contains around 30,000 worker ants and one queen). That said, you can reduce the appeal of your home by minimising the availability of food: keep open packets tightly fastened up and clean away food waste, including crumbs and spills.
Can you remove ants once they’ve found their way in?
Yes, fortunately, this is something you can do. A complete approach to getting rid of ants requires a number of strategies: kill the worker ants, kill the queen, and remove the pheromone trail so other colonies can’t find their way in.
Dusting powder will kill many of the worker ants that come into your home, however, the queen doesn’t leave the nest and she can continue to lay eggs her whole life so if you don’t deal with her, you will never destroy the colony. To do this, you have to be a bit cunning by using her worker ants against her. For this, you need a bait station. Bait stations tempt the ants in with a block of sweet-scented poison. They will break pieces off and take them back to the colony, believing it to be food, where it will kill the queen and ensure that no further eggs are laid.
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The final piece of the puzzle is to remove the pheromone trail. A surface spray will not only kill any ants that come into contact with it but will also remove the trail. While the trail is invisible and odourless to humans, you should be able to detect it by noting the route that the ants are taking.
If you have a significant infestation and these strategies don’t seem to be working, you could try a smoke bomb, which is able to find its way into everywhere at once, including the tiniest nooks and crannies.
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