Giant swarm of flying ants visible from space spotted over southern England

17 July 2020, 22:00

Giant swarm of flying ants 'visible from space' spotted over south coast

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A 50-mile-wide swarm of flying ants that is visible from space has been spotted over southern England.

The giant cloud of insects was picked up by the Met Office's weather radar over Kent and Sussex, with smaller swarms spotted over London.

But people across the country have been uploading videos and pictures of flying ants throughout the day on Friday, with other groups of the insects spotted in Norfolk, Hull and Yorkshire.

In a video uploaded by the weather service, blue spots over the south coast of England that appeared to be rain were in fact swarms of flying ants.

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The blue spots over the south coast are not patches of rain but in fact flying ants
The blue spots over the south coast are not patches of rain but in fact flying ants. Picture: Met Office

The Met Office tweeted a video of the swarm and said: "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 #flyingantday'."

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A spokesman for the weather service said there are likely "thousands" of ants within the swarm.

He said: "It's not unusual for larger swarms to be picked up.

"A similar thing happened almost exactly a year ago on flying ant day.

"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."

'Flying ant day' takes place when male ants and new queens leave their nests to mate, with many colonies doing so on the same day.

According to the Royal Society of Biology, there is not always one flying ant day, but as many as 96 per cent of days between June and September flying ants are spotted.

A woman named Jo, from Brighton, posted a video of the insects in her garden. She said: "Flying Ant day today in my garden. Quite spectacular!

"And worth knowing Ants are an important insect, particularly in deterring pests and improving our soil. Don't kill them, tolerate them."