Flying Ant Day – Nuptial Flight (Video)

One day every year, when the conditions are right, Winged Ants take to the air in order to create new colonies. Today, here all around the Quinta the skies became full of large flying Ants. There are many Ant species in Portugal, which these are I’m not certain (please get in touch if you know!).

Deep inside the Ant colonies, Winged species are breed and wait until its time for the Nuptial flight. Both Males and Virgin Queens take to the skies. The Queens release pheromones to entice males. Successful males mate with multiple Queens before dying, yep, their life is complete! The Queens, which now have their Spermatheca organ full of sperm, land back on the ground. They contain enough sperm to fertilise eggs for their entire lifetime, which I have read can be up to 20 years! On the ground, the (no longer) Virgin Queen has to find a new location to build her new colony and constantly lay eggs. They no longer have a use for the wings, so they tear them off and discard them. Fascinated by this I grabbed my Mobile Phone and recorded a few clips.

Here is the edit I put together to show this amazing transformation.

{Remember to watch in HD if possible}

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Morning Dog Walk: Last Week A Fake, This Time The Real Hornet!….And Some Ants……

I take a camera along on my Dog Walks to bring you some of the sightings that I see on my morning walks, these photos are rarely going to be great quality as its hard enough keeping an energetic Dog entertained and get close enough to anything. They also help me identify where species are so that I can plan to return.

Last week, I saw a Mimic Hornet Hoverfly, but this morning it was the real deal! I could hear a loud, deep buzzing noise and assumed it was a Carpenter Bee, however, I glanced up and saw some European Hornets feasting on Sap leaking out of a Cork Oak.

These are big, in fact are the biggest “true” Wasp found in Europe, in other words, the largest member of the Vespa genus. They grown to around 3.5cm long and although get a bad name for being aggressive, in fact they are not. However, approach their nest or food source and they will defend en masse and unlike Bees can sting repeatedly.

{Click image(s) to view on Flickr - opens in new tab}

European Hornet (Vespa crabro)
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