When you hear the term “flying ant day” most people know exactly what this means; but flying ant day isn’t an official designation, or a date you can pencil into your calendar! There is no doubt that it happens though, and when flying ants are prolific in the local area, they can be quite hard to avoid for both dogs and people.
Some dogs react quite badly to flying ants in large numbers, particularly if the ants get in their coat; and this article will provide some information and insights into flying ant day 2021 and how to manage your dog when it hits. Read on to learn more
Most of us are already very familiar with what flying ants look like, as while they’re only around for a very brief period of time, they’re large, distinctive, and memorable. Many people often find them highly annoying and off-putting as they commonly land on people and dogs, and can get into your hair and clothes.
There are a few different species of flying ants that can be found in the UK but over 90% of the ones that all come out in one go each year over the course of a few days are the black pavement ant, or Lasius niger. They have long bodies and are significantly larger than the average garden ant, have large wings, and are black in colour.
Flying ant day doesn’t have a set date; it’s a colloquial name that started as a bit of a joke that now has a high level of uptake, in reflection of the fact that flying ants all tend to appear at the same time in huge numbers for a day or two, and then are rarely seen in any great numbers at any other time of the year.
The ants don’t appear to order or on a set calendar date, so if you were planning to batten down the hatches to avoid them, we can’t tell you when you should do this!
However, flying ant day as we tend to use the term (to mean the first day when the flying ants suddenly start appearing in large numbers) almost always falls in July. Additionally, it is dictated by environmental conditions, and so the weather and temperatures in any given year make the date the ants come out variable to an extent. For instance, in 2012, most areas of the country saw flying ant day happen in August as opposed to July.
All of the flying ants in the UK don’t appear on the same day either; the south of England tends to kick off proceedings and then flying ant day tends to move up the country progressively, coming to the north a little later than the south.
In 2020, for instance, the south of England saw their first day of a heavy flying ant presence on the 10th of July, but some northern areas didn’t start seeing them until 15th July.
The ideal temperature for flying ants is around 25 degrees Celsius, and you won’t find them around on days with much of a breeze as they cannot fly in anything other than fairly still conditions.
Another thing to bear in mind is that if flying ant day falls particularly early in the year because the environmental conditions have enabled this, a colony of flying ants may have two swarms in one year rather than one; causing two flying ant days in some areas!
What actually happens on flying ant day, and why do the ants all come out in large numbers all in one go? Flying ant day is basically mating season for the ants, and it is the time when the new queen ants and the male ants all leave the nest to mate.
So, how does flying ant day affect dogs? If your dog has already seen one flying ant day, you may already have a good idea of what to expect and how your dog will react.
Flying ants can really bother some dogs, because they ants are so prolific and their behaviour isn’t really designed with the survival of individuals in mind. They get onto all sorts of surfaces, get into the house and car, and fly low, at human and dog height. They think nothing of landing on people and dogs, and most of us are all too aware that they tend to get in your hair, and your dog’s fur.
This can result in dogs being irritable and very distracted; snapping at ants in the air, trying to shake and paw them out of their coats, and potentially not having a great attention span or tolerance as a result.
If your dog is distracted by flying ants, this is not the best time to try and hold a training session or do anything that requires a high level of focus from your dog. The best way to approach flying ant day with your dog is to try to reduce the number of ants that can get into the home by keeping windows closed, and to reduce the time your dog spends outside if the ants are bothering them.
Brush ants out of your dog’s coat if you see any too.
Try to walk your dog in the cooler parts of the day, both as this is more comfortable and as the ants will be less prolific. If there’s a good place to walk near your home that tends to have a bit of a breeze, like on a shore or in a hilly area, head that way as you’ll find fewer flying ants around where there’s any real level of wind movement.
Keep your dog on a lead when walking too, as if your dog starts snapping at ants or trying to get them out of their coat, they won’t be paying the proper attention to potential dangers.