A swarm of flying ants so big it has been detected on the Met Office radar is heading for London, it has emerged.
Every summer there is a day when thousands of giant flying ants emerge from their nests all at the same time – a spectacle known as Flying Ant Day.
The phenomenon, which often happens in July, sees giant black clouds of winged insects descend upon Ireland and the UK due to the hot weather.
Last week the Met Office recorded insets flying over London, with the swarm was so big it was picked up on the weather service’s radar.
Environmental science expert Aidan O’Hanlon told RSVP Live that Flying Ant Day will likely happen very soon, as there is a heatwave on the way.
Aidan says people should simply leave the pests alone and stay indoors during the peak of flying ants.
Other handy tips include cleaning up litter, closing food containers and keeping an eye out for ant nests.
“They can seem annoying but ants are ecologically essential,” explained Aidan.
“They provide aeration in soil through their nesting behaviour, and serving as a bonanza food source for birds, spiders, wasps and other insects in the summer when the ants swarm in huge numbers.”
Aidan said that it is rare that flying ants in Ireland can sting us, but it can happen.
“Some ants can sting but most species in Ireland have no functional stinger and are only interested in mating with each other,” said Aidan.
He added: “The ants can become quite clumsy and will land on people but it is nothing to worry about.”
Despite the common belief of Flying Ant Day, there is no one day that the ants emerge, so you may experience their swarming for a few days depending on what area of the country you are in.
Aidan explained: “There is no actual ‘flying ant day’. Instead, it is more like a flying ant season – a period of several weeks during mid-late summer, usually July and August, when weather conditions are hot and humid.”
However, flying ant season will never last longer than a few days.
“Male ants live for just a few days around the mating period,” Aidan said.