Weather radar systems detected a massive swarm of flying ants covering parts of the United Kingdom. The swarm appeared like a giant rain cloud in the radar systems’ images.
The Meteorological Office or Met Office, which provides weather forecasts in the U.K., detected the massive swarm on Friday. According to the agency, it first appeared like a giant rain cloud over southeast England and parts of London. The data collected by the agency revealed that the swarm spanned about 50 miles.
After closely examining the radar images, the Met Office noticed that the objects within the cloud-like swarm do not look like water droplets. Instead, the agency noted that the objects had insect-like shapes. A spokesperson from the agency confirmed that the massive swarm was composed of thousands of flying ants.
For the Met Office, the appearance of a massive swarm of flying ants is not a rare occurrence. As noted by the agency, the insect-filled cloud appears yearly, an event that locals refer to as Flying Ant Day.
“It’s not unusual for larger swarms to be picked up. A similar thing happened almost exactly a year ago on Flying Ant Day,” a spokesperson for the Met Office told Sky News.
“On days like today, when it is sunny, the radar detects the swarm, but we are able to see they are not the same shape as water droplets, and in fact look more insect-like,” the rep continued.
According to the U.K.’s Royal Society of Biology, the swarm of flying ants appears when the queen ants leave their nests to start colonies in new locations. As they fly away, they are followed by the male ants.
The scientific organization noted that the flying ants are generally harmless, and their presence can actually improve the quality of the environment in the areas they visit.
“Ants contribute a lot throughout their lifespan, including aerating the soil they burrow into and recycling nutrients and returning detritus back into the earth,” the organization explained. “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.”