Back in, Not too bad now a strongish southerly sea breeze has developed many of them are now on the ground. Have been reading up on these critters apparently they normally swarm for 2 or 3 hours to mate with all the queens the males then die, the queens land on the ground and tear their wings off, which there are loads of evident now on the ground and they then find somewhere to hibernate for the coming winter.
Quite interesting really. A few have fallen foul in spiders webs too.
Flying ants may become a nuisance in July/August, when the reproductive winged males and females swarm during mating. These swarms - although they can be spectacular - actually only last for 2 to 3 hours. Mating takes place in the air, after which the males die off and the fertilised females (queen ants) shed their wings and find a place to stay for the winter, eventually laying eggs to start a new colony in the following spring. Ant larvae hatch in 3 to 4 weeks, being fed by the queen until they pupate. The first worker ants then emerge to complete the life cycle.
After the flight
Young queen beginning to dig a new colony
The males usually die very soon after mating. The young mated queens land and, in the case of ants, remove their wings. They then attempt to found a new colony. The details of this vary from species to species, but typically involve the excavation of the colony's first chamber and the subsequent laying of eggs. From this point the queen continuously lays eggs which hatch into larvae, exclusively destined to develop into worker ants. The queen usually nurses the first brood alone. After the first workers appear, the queen becomes strictly an egg-laying machine. For an example of a colony founding process, see Atta sexdens.
The young queens have an extremely high failure rate. During its lifetime a very large ant colony can send out millions of virgin queens. Assuming that the total number of ant colonies in the area remains constant, on average only one of these queens will succeed. The rest are destroyed by predators (most notably other ants), environmental hazards or failures in raising the first brood at various stages of the process. This strict selection ensures that the queen has to be both extremely fit and extremely lucky to pass on her genes to the next generation.