Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ant Alert

 St. Catherine's Hill from Five Bridges Road

Sunny days are here again.  For a bit, anyway.  In the interests of phenological science, allow me to pass on this appeal to you:

Dear all,

It is now just weeks to go until we are expecting flying ants on a large scale. Last year the two peaks were 24th July and 8th August, and we will be very interested to see whether we have two peaks again. Earlier sightings often come from houses, greenhouses and compost bins.

Sorry for the delay with sending out the sample tubes, but the addresses are with the printer so they will be coming very shortly.

We are ready for you to submit your records and look forward to the first sightings. Thank you for all your help, and please do spread the word to any friends and family who would be interested.

Best wishes,

Dr Rebecca Nesbit MSB
0207 685 2553
07714 594862
Follow me on Twitter @Society_Biology and @RebeccaNesbit 
Find us on facebook
Read our blog

Seen flying ants this year? Please report your sightings!

Why she wants us to send her a sample is not entirely clear -- do they need to be sure ant-spotters are drug free? -- but, whatever, I don't mind.  As soon as I get the tube the sample will be on its way, Rebecca!

St. Catherine's Hill, approached from the SW


Struan said...

There's always one....

Mike C. said...


One? No, no, there's hundreds of the things, all at the same time, that's the whole point!


Kent Wiley said...

This year in the eastern US saw the return - after 17 years - of the Brood II cicadas. Apparently harmless to humans or vegetation, this is the largest group that emerges here annually.

Check out this video to see what is going on with them. They're pretty much gone now, and I think another brood - a much smaller group - has emerged.

Good luck w/ the ants!

Mike C. said...


The cicada cycle is downright bizarre. The only thing we have here (that I know of) to come close is the life-cycle of the Large Blue butterfly, which -- deservedly -- has already gone extinct once.

It doesn't do to be so fussy...


Zouk Delors said...

How big are these tubes? What if I find a giant mutant ant?

Zouk Delors said...


I think all cicadas have either 13- or 17-year life cycles. It's thought to be a prime number "strategy" for ensuring prey vegetation cannot escape their attentions (or summink).

There's something about it at

Kent Wiley said...

Mike, that's some fussy butterfly! But hanging (literally) out w/ ants in their colony, feeding off their eggs, then getting escorted to a thyme plant by them is one bizarro life cycle.

The cicadas do come in 13 & 17 year broods. But there are emergences somewhere in the US nearly every year. This year's 17 year crop is called Brood II and is the largest. Look at this chart to see what broods are coming out when & where.

Mike C. said...


In the event of seeing an emergence of giant mutant flying ants, I think it's probably best not to send Rebecca your sample, it can only lead to trouble...