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Mile-long swarm of flying ants spotted near south coast and more could be on way

The Met Office picked up the ants on a rain radar on Friday and people took to social media reporting sightings saying it was ‘flying ant day’.

A swarm of flying ants a mile long was caught on a weather radar on the south coast – and more could be seen in the coming days.

The Met Office picked up the ants on a rain radar on Friday as people took to social media reporting sightings saying it was “flying ant day”.

The forecaster said the winged insects are usually picked up on their radars at this time of the year over the space of about a week.

The swarms appear on the radars and look similar to rainfall, but the Met Office can check their weather gauges to confirm if it is rain or flying ants.

They creatures are less likely to fly in the rain and it is harder for the Met Office to tell if it is ants or the rainfall during wet weather, Simon Partridge, a forecaster for the Met Office, said.

Flying ant
The creatures tend not to fly as well when there are rain showers (Philip Toscano/PA)

He added: “Every year around this time we do pick them up on the rain radar. At the moment it’s harder to tell because we’ve got so many showers and the ants look like showers.

“When we do get the rain, they don’t fly as much.

“It’s generally the southern parts of the UK where we tend to notice it most.

“We haven’t seen any swarms today but it doesn’t mean they’re not there as there are so many showers around.

“They were picked up on the radar on Friday. It was much drier and it was easier to spot them.

“They can be seen several miles across – they look like very heavy showers. On Friday it was about a mile.

“They’re an interesting phenomenon and it’s always this time of year and usually over about a week or so.”

Flying ants are spotted when males and new queens leave the nest to mate, with many ant colonies doing so on the same day.

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

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