Millions of flying ants swarm over Sussex

JPNS FLYING ANT GV
JPNS FLYING ANT GV

Millions of flying ants were swarming along the South Coast this week with sightings reported in Hastings, Eastbourne and Bexhill.

The weather was perfect for ants to move into the “nuptial flight” phase of their reproduction, also known as “flying ant day” - where virgin queen ants are followed by male ants hoping to mate.

As the queen sets off, she emits pheromones that attract the males.

But when they follow her she will flee, meaning only the strongest are able to keep up and mate with her. The process helps to make sure her offspring are as fit as they can be.

The swarms were so dense that they fooled meteorological satellites into thing it was rain.

Some of the ants can measure up to 15mm in length.

Flying ants are mostly harmless to humans, but they do have a strange effect on seagulls who can appear drunk after eating a few due to formic acid they expel.

A flying ant day usually occurs when a spell of wet weather is followed by hot humid weather.

Although referred to as a day, the mating ritual can last for several weeks in high summer.

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