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Flying Ant Day predicted earlier this year 'with extra 50 BILLION pests expected to take to UK skies'; Bug experts say the unseasonably warm British spring - with April 19 having been he hottest April day since 1949 - has led to a surge in the number of ants around the country.

Byline: Abigail O'Leary

Flying Ant Day is predicted to hit UK earlier this year - and could see an extra 50 BILLION pests take to the skies.

Pest experts predict the unseasonably warm weather in the UK, with April 19 seeing Britain bask in 29C heat, the hottest April day since 1949, has led to a surge in the number of ants around the UK.

Wildlife experts believe there are more than 10,000 trillion ants in the world - with around 150bn of them in the UK.

Taking into account the huge rise in call-out by Rentokill, this year's ant population could be closer to 200bn - meaning more grief for British householders facing swarms of the pests in their gardens, homes and bins.

Because of the huge surge in the number of ants, the number of flying ants - when ants sprout wings and go on 'nuptial flights' in search of a mate - this year is expected to take place earlier than normal.

The event, often called Flying Ant Day, despite it normally lasting around a fortnight, usually takes place in July, but this year is expected to take place as early as June.

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A spokesman for Rentokil said: "There has been a significant increase in ant activity across the UK.

"Ant-related call outs increased 148% from March to April.

"Experts believe the rise could be attributed to the unseasonably warm start to the Spring - after Brits experienced record-breaking warm weather in April.

"Last month's period of clear skies and the hottest April day since 1949 may explain the surge in activity, as ants are typically more active in higher temperatures and colonies use sunlight to navigate.

"If the weather remains mild, Rentokil expects higher levels of ant activity throughout the summer period.

"Ant life-cycles depend on temperature, and the amount of food available to them.

"Provided the Queen is healthy, and enough food is being brought back to the nest, ant eggs have a greater chance of survival.

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"Ants can hatch after just three weeks, leading to increased breeding and larger colonies during prolonged warm periods."

David Cross, head of the technical training academy at Rentokil Pest Control, said: "Last month we saw reported ant infestations rise to levels we wouldn't usually expect until June or July.

"It's rare to see ant infestations in cold or overcast weather, and while the 'Beast from the East' may have caused them to remain dormant in March, the sudden change in temperature has since brought them out in their droves.

"This trend could be set to continue throughout the rest of the summer."

He added: "If temperatures remain high, we also expect this to really be a bumper year for flying ants, which could manifest itself at 'Flying Ant Day' - the 'nuptial flight' stage of ant reproduction where swarms of flying ants are prominent.

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"Some ant nests can last for several years and cover a large area - with anything from several hundred to tens of thousands of ants in each colony.

"Their size can make them difficult to spot indoors, but ants leave sticky residues on worktops because they are attracted to, and eat, sweet things. If you think you have a problem in your home, it's always best to seek professional advice."

Bosses at Rentokil said that the main food source for ant was sugary secretions from insects like aphids - although many will sneak into homes to feast on sugary deposits from fruit and any food left out.

When one any finds a good food source it leaves a 'pheromone trail', which tips off ant pals about a good food source, which can see hundreds and thousands march into homes, often through cracks in doors, windows and through pipes.

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Credit: iStockphoto

Wildlife experts believe there are more than 10,000 trillion ants in the world

Credit: Moment RF

Masses of ants on rocks at Baslow edge in the Peak District national park

Credit: PA

The warm weather could see an extra 50 billion ants in the UK

Credit: EyeEm

Flying ants sprout wings and take to the skies to find a mate

Credit: PA

Experts believe the warm Spring weather has led to a surge in ants

Credit: SWNS.com

Flying Ant Day usually comes in July and sees billions of ants take to the sky
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Title Annotation:News,UK News
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 30, 2018
Words:778
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