Date: 9/3/19 8:50 pm
From: Josh <opihi...>
Subject: Re: [MASSBIRD] Gulls galore and flying ants
Linda and Massbirders,

The massive ant flights in late summer and early fall are for reproduction and dispersal. The new young queens and drones emerge from pupation with wings and take off in massive numbers, trying to swamp their predators with such overwhelming numbers that at least a few of them are guaranteed to survive. They mate, and the queens wander off and find places to found new colonies. I checked with my favorite ant expert, James Trager of the Missouri Botanical Garden; he said that the ants involved are usually the genus Lasius, commonly known as citronella ants, but the genera Myrmica and Crematogaster also sometimes stage similar flights.

As for the dragonflies, the groups that gather to feed on the emerging ants are usually mixed-species affairs. They are mostly mosaic darners, genus Aeshna, with the most common participants being Shadow, Canada, and Black-tipped. On the early end, late July and early August, a few striped emeralds, genus Somatochlora, often mix in, most often Clamp-tipped and Brush-tipped. Later in the season, migrant dragonfly species like the Green Darner and the species of saddlebags and gliders tend to join in.

Cheers,

Josh


Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
Amherst, MA

Vice-president, Hampshire Bird Club
https://hampshirebirdclub.org/

Northeast Chapter head, Dragonfly Society of the Americas
https://www.dragonflysocietyamericas.org/northeastdsa

http://bugguide.net/user/view/2399
https://www.facebook.com/opihi


> On Aug 29, 2019, at 10:09 PM, Cherrie Corey <cherrie.corey62...> wrote:
>
> Linda, thank you for this reminder. We’re usually at our Downeast cabin in Surry, ME in late August. I have witnessed this miraculous annual flight from the base of our ancient black ash tree for some 30 years. All the ants stream toward the morning sun and so many end up in the bay, just down the road, by day’s end. Am missing them this year.
>
> Cherrie Corey
> Marlboro, VT
>
>
> On Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 8:10 PM Ted Home <tedgpurcell...> <mailto:<tedgpurcell...>> wrote:
> We see this some years here in Central Mass, but it is nighthawks and dragonflies.
> Ted Purcell
> Rutland MA
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> On Aug 29, 2019, at 6:16 PM, linda pivacek <lpivacek...> <mailto:<lpivacek...>> wrote:
>
>> This is the day/early evening that the flying ants hatch and hundreds of gulls swirl around to catch them. I see this each year from our house in Little Nahant. And happened to see this awesome sight again at 5:10pm today.
>>
>> It takes me by surprise each year since it just happens for a sudden 1-2 hours then over. Also the gulls are joined by dragon flies predating the ants.
>>
>>
>>
>> Maybe it will be still be going tomorrow.. a special natural event.
>>
>> Perhaps an entomologist would provide info via Massbird.
>>
>>
>>
>> Linda Pivacek, Nahant
>>
>> <lpivacek...> <mailto:<lpivacek...>
>>


 
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