Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C

"Single-purpose sexual missiles" - mating flying ants are taking over the country

Yes, really. And seagulls are getting ‘drunk’ eating them.

-JvL- -JvL-

BAD NEWS, EVERYONE. It’s Flying Ant Day. And everybody’s celebrating.*

Large areas of Ireland are currently being terrorised by swarms of dozy flying ants that land on you, shed their manky wings everywhere, and are completely impervious to being swatted away.

Even our nation’s leafiest suburbs are not safe from this menace.

All over the country, people are being forced to walk around with their lips gummed together to avoid the little b*****ds getting in their mouths.

And in the UK, families have reportedly been forced from their homes.

So what, exactly is going on? We’re here to explain.

First up, it’s not this.


It’s actually because flying ants are “single-purpose sexual missiles”.

Uh… Flying ants are “single-purpose sexual missiles”?

Yep. Flying Ant Day is linked to the way ants reproduce and spread. In fact, it’s technically known as “nuptial flight” – which sounds very romantic, but is really about ants growing wings and landing on you.

During nuptial flight, ants sprout wings and scatter from their colony to try and found new ant nests in the surrounding area. Male ants – which according to Bert Holldobler, author of The Ants, are “quickly converted into single-purpose sexual missiles” – mate with the new queens in flight.

Photography in Development / YouTube

The new queens then land, shed their wings (possibly all over you) and try and start a new colony.

So when flying ants land on me and shed their wings, they’re literally trying to start an ants’ nest on my body?

Very possibly, yes.

Why does it all happen at once?

It’s to do with this humid weather we’re having. When the weather conditions are right, numerous ant colonies swarm simultaneously – this increases the chances of the ants meeting and inbreeding with other ants from different colonies.

So we’re basically living through the ant equivalent of All-Ireland final day in Coppers?


What can we do about it?

Well, not much. It will end by itself in a day or two.

Some people are taking heart from the fact that humanity’s old enemies the seagulls are on the case. They love to eat flying ants.

But the bad news is, seagulls are thought to get ‘drunk’ when they binge on the insects.

Um, what? Boozed-up seagulls now as well?

Fraid so. Some ants’ bodies contain formic acid, which some biologists have suggested could contribute to loud and excitable behaviour from the birds.

“Some of the slightly odd behaviour we are seeing could be as a result of these ants – it could leave the gulls slightly drunk,” Dr Rebecca Nesbit told the Telegraph last year.

It’s possible because we know that some ants produce formic acid, and it could be having an effect. The gulls can also get very excited and loud when they eat the ants, so that could be a contributing factor.

MrTomostan / YouTube

Should we just all stay at home and close all the windows then?

Basically, yes. See you Thursday or thereabouts?

*Everybody who is an ant.

Written by Michael Freeman and originally published on

DE Syndication

Read: Irish artist explains why we’re all being attacked by flying ants>

Read: Here’s why people are saying Ant-Man is sexist… towards insects

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.