Flight of the Ants

This ‘one minute bugs’ post is a video about a nuptial flight of ants. Ants perform these ‘nuptial’ or ‘reproductive’ flights so that new colonies can be started. Winged males and females fly up into the air where they meet, mate, and then the females look for suitable nesting sites. The females then become queens of their new colony.

I filmed this material last week, and there have been other ant flights since then. There was even one today. But I reckon that’s got to be the last one for the season because tomorrow a severe cold front hits the area. Just in time, ants!

I hope you enjoy the video – as usual it’s short and sweet! Let me know what you think. Please hit the subscribe button in the widget if you would like to receive email alerts about new posts.

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Sap-suckers & sooty mould

Sooty mould is not a plant disease as such but various species of fungi, which grow on the sticky honeydew excreted by many species of sap-sucking insects. A very thick mould layer on leaves may cause a reduction in photosynthesis in plants, which can result in leaves falling prematurely. The main concern to gardeners (apart from the sap-sucking pests which caused it) is that a thick covering of sooty mould on a plant’s leaves is downright ugly.

Sooty mould is a serious problem for the horticultural industry. Ugly plants are unsaleable. Similarly in the citrus industry, the main economic damage caused by mealybugs is by the downgrading of fruit quality due to sooty mould growing on mealybug honeydew. The picture below shows a leaf infested by soft scale insects and the sooty mould they cause – pretty ugly eh?

Sooty mold

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What’s good about ants? Plenty.

Many people, especially gardeners, only see ants as pests, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. These days I work weekends in a garden centre, and when summer arrived every second customer I encountered wanted a product to kill ants. One person even asked me for the “Agent Orange” of ant insecticides! They were somewhat bemused when I asked “What sort of ants are they, and why do you want to kill them?”

ponerine ant
This harmless ponerine ant is holding a water drop in its mandibles.

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