Country diary: flying ant day is here, there and everywhere

Country diary: flying ant day is here, there and everywhere

Langstone, Hampshire: Flying en masse means safety in numbers, though thousands are picked off by the avian onslaught

I awoke to the raucous screeching of black-headed and herring gulls, punctuated by the exclamatory yelps of Mediterranean gulls. Pulling back the curtains, I saw they were swooping and swirling above the garden in a feeding frenzy, their bills snapping as they snatched insects on the wing.

There had been a heavy downpour overnight and the subsequent combination of bright sunshine, high humidity and low wind speed had triggered the mass emergence of black garden ants (Lasius niger). Outside I found fertile winged adults – known as alates – erupting from a crack in the paving slabs, while more streamed out from a second nest beneath the bird bath.

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