This afternoon, for the first time in a week or more, the sky is overcast. It’s so grey over to the east that you could believe that we might get a rain shower; we don’t, but these still, sultry conditions are perfect for the brown ants that have a colony under our patio to release their winged queens and males. Hundreds of them are lined up ready to take off over the lawn as the ground crew, the colony’s workers, scurry about excitedly.
It seems that some of the queens don’t go far on their nuptial flights. A few hours later, as I’m watering a small patch of the lawn that I’ve reseeded, I spot three or four of them running around and, when one of them finds a likely cavity, it heads straight down; the start of a new colony, if all goes well.
The queen ants are so much larger and plumper than the workers, with glistening abdomens, so that when I first see them I think that they’re some kind of ground beetle. They’ve already discarded their wings, which are used solely for the nuptial flight.