Millions of ants have been mistaken for rain by weather forecast radars as they have taken to the skies on ‘Flying Ant Day’ in southern England.
Large numbers of ants appeared on weather radar systems between 8am and 11am this morning.
The insects could be seen moving from Hampshire to west Sussex on the interactive weather map.
Meteorologist at the Met Office, Emma Smith, said to Yahoo News UK: “We do not often see the flying ants on the radar channels as the weather is too dry.
“Today it is more humid and there is more potential for rain so it has been picked up.”
The BBC weather presenter Simon King tweeted an image of the “incredible phenomenon”.
The weather conditions of being hot and humid after a spell of wet weather has led to the annual ‘nuptial flight’ of ants where the queen will be followed by males hoping to mate with her.
Mr King said to the BBC: "We knew it was dry in the south of England, and yet the radar was showing this very light precipitation across the south.
If you said flying ants 🐜 you were correct! ✔️— Met Office (@metoffice) July 17, 2019
We know this to be insect clutter (flying ants) based on inspection of raw reflectivity (Zdr and RhoHV) #WednesdayWisdom #FlyingAnts pic.twitter.com/8HejoLB9u5
"You can tell it's not rainfall because it has that eerie look to it. It doesn't quite match what rainfall looks like.
"These ants are a particular size and they are probably hovering at a certain height in the atmosphere towards the base of a cloud, and the sheer number of them would suggest there's enough for the radar systems to pick up.
"For it to actually to appear on the radar imagery, that's something certainly incredible, and I just feel sorry for all the people who have to experience those flying ants."
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During the flight, virgin queen ants mate with the males who then lose their wings and fall to the ground in a bid to start a new ant colony.
The flying ants can last a few weeks and by the end of the period, billions of ants would have taken to the sky.
The Met Office tweeted: “If you said flying ants 🐜 you were correct! ✔️
“We know this to be insect clutter (flying ants) based on inspection of raw reflectivity (Zdr and RhoHV).”
Flying ants to not pose danger to humans but can be irritating.