Every year, England is invaded by swarms of flying ants. It happens, and people just deal with it.
This year, however, some of the swarms were so large that they were seen from space and mistaken for rain storms.
Simon King, a weather presenter and meteorologist for the BBC, tweeted that the swarms were being mistaken for rain by the weather radar.
“Swarms of them flying into the sky in [South England] are being picked up as rain on the radar image this morning…!”
The official UK Met Office presented another view of the swarm. The video showed an actual storm front moving over Northwest England, and some odd movement in the Southeast.
The office’s Twitter account asked people what they thought it was, to which most responded: “dust.”
“If you said flying ants you were correct! We know this to be insect clutter (flying ants) based on inspection of raw reflectivity,” the account then tweeted.
AN office spokesperson told The Telegraph that the radar mistook the ants for rain because it thought “the beams are hitting raindrops not ants.”
The Telegraph also reported that the ants are not harmful 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.”
CNN reported that the large swarms were not out of the ordinary, as they “merely signaled the annual arrival of what has come to be known as Flying Ant Day”:
Mobs of the insects descend on locations around Britain on one day every summer. The creatures sweep in and take up residence on streets, green land and in the skies before disappearing hours later.
The phenomena occurs because male and queen ants leave their colonies to mate when conditions are just right. And while flying ants are spotted on several days throughout the year, the vast majority pick the exact same moment to head out from their nests.
The ants, CNN reported, ruined two sunny and warm days this week with their mating ritual. The outlet also reported that the swarms have famously ruined certain outdoor events, such as Wimbledon, where “tennis championships struggled to maintain their focus as swarms descended onto Centre Court.”
The Royal Society of Biology said the swarms were helpful for the environment, as their activity “allows for more oxygen and water to reach the roots of plants and they can even improve soil fertility and help control pests.”