Swarms of flying ants were so thick in England earlier this month that a weather service satellite showed the ants moving like clouds across the southeastern portion of the country.
“It’s not raining in London, Kent or Sussex, but our radar says otherwise… The radar is actually picking up a swarm of #flyingants across the southeast. During the summer ants can take to the skies in a mass emergence usually on warm, humid and windless days,” the weather service tweeted.
It’s not raining in London, Kent or Sussex, but our radar says otherwise…?
The radar is actually picking up a swarm of #flyingants across the southeast ?
— Met Office (@metoffice) July 17, 2020
Several social media users tweeted video of what one part of the swarm looked like at ground level.
Flying ants a go go pic.twitter.com/hY8eRb2cft
— William A. Booth (@WilliamABooth) July 17, 2020
Flying Ant Day! pic.twitter.com/eYHwsGXZJZ
— Books and Wine (@booksandwine76) July 18, 2020
My favourite part of Flying Ant Day – which was somehow yesterday in Tavistock, I just forgot to post this then – is how all the regular, walking ants come out to wave them off. It’s clearly a big moment in the ant world
— Mike Baker (@TheBikeMaker) July 13, 2020
Britain’s Sky News quoted a weather service spokesman whose name was not used as saying, “It’s not unusual for larger swarms to be picked up.”
“A similar thing happened almost exactly a year ago on ‘Flying Ant Day,’ ” the spokesman said, referring to the British tradition of denoting a single day when many flying ant males and queens leave their nests to mate.
“On days like today, when it is sunny, the radar detects the swam, but we are able to see they are not the same shape as water droplets, and in fact look more insect-like,” the spokesman said.
Instead, “Flying Ant Day” is localized by community and weather.
The society said swarms of bugs are a good thing.
“Ants contribute a lot throughout their lifespan, including aerating the soil they burrow into and recycling nutrients and returning detritus back into the earth,” the society said. “Their activity allows for more oxygen and water to reach the roots of plants, and they can even improve soil fertility and help control pests.”
Ants are very good for the birds, the society added.
“When in flight, they can be a target for larger predators; emerging in large numbers increases the likelihood of at least some ants surviving predation and being able to mate but does mean they can be a quick and easy source of food for birds like gulls, too,” the Royal Society for Biology said.
The society also said humans should leave the business of killing ants to the birds.
“Flying ants are not harmful, so if some emerge in your garden or elsewhere, it’s best to leave them alone as they’ll disappear once they fly off within a few hours,” the society said.
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