Flying ants appeared as rainfall on weather radars over the weekend as millions of the winged insects took to the skies on “flying ant day”.
Each year, swarms of the creatures descend on towns and cities across the UK as males and queens leave their nests in search of mates.
Warmer temperatures during the summer months mean that many ant colonies take flight on the same day, according to the Royal Society of Biology.
This is why they were seen in such large numbers on Sunday, with people across the country complaining that parks and gardens had been invaded by the insects.
Some of the swarms were so big that weather systems mistook their presence for rain.
Did you see millions of flying ants yesterday?
There were so many insects in the sky, the weather radars could even pick up their presence, mistaking them for raindrops. @Lauratobin1‘s got the flying ant report this morning🐜 pic.twitter.com/OgaRf7HH2k— Good Morning Britain (@GMB)July 13, 2020
“It was flying ant day and I have actually got a radar showing flying ants,” explained ITV meteorologist Laura Toibin.
“It looks like rain on the radar but this little area here...where millions and millions of flying ants were picked up by the radar so it looks like it was rain.
“So a radar works by a signal going out hitting a raindrop coming back and telling you it’s raining. So the signal went out, hit all of the flying ants, and came back again to show the area.”
According to the RSB, ants – including the common garden ant Lasius niger – leave their previous nests to form new colonies.
They take flight when the weather is warm, humid and wind speeds are low, allowing easier flight.
Although there are certain days when swarms can be spotted, flying ants can be found taking to the skies on most days between the start of June and September.
However, the pattern of flying ants differs between years, according to the RSB. In 2012, there were just a few days in late July and a few more in mid-August where around 80 per cent of the flying activity was focused.