A gigantic swarm of flying ants at least 50 miles wide which can be seen from space has shown up on the Met Office’s weather radar today as Britons bask in 84F sunshine on one of the hottest days of the year.
Video posted by the Met Office shows a cloud of ants swarming off the south-east coast today as temperatures rocket and sun-seekers flock to the seaside today.
The plague of insects peppered the skies over Kent and Sussex during their ‘nuptial flight’, during which they mate – an event triggered by the mini-heatwave which has hit the nation.
The Met Office tweeted: ‘It’s not raining in London, Kent or Sussex, but our radar says otherwise…
‘The radar is actually picking up a swarm of #flyingants across the southeast. During the summer ants can take to the skies in a mass emergence usually on warm, humid and windless days #flyingantday’.
Ants swarm together to raise the odds of pairs successfully mating and to deter predators at this vulnerable stage in the life cycle of their colonies.
Video posted by the Met Office shows a cloud of ants swarming off the south-east coast today as temperatures rocket and sun-seekers flock to the seaside today. The plague of insects peppered the skies over Kent and Sussex on their so-called ‘nuptial flight’, during which they mate – an event triggered by the mini-heatwave which has hit the nation
Sun-seekers flocking to the beach at the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset today on a day of scorching hot sunshine
Pictured: Jola and her daughter Isla (one) and Rowan (three) enjoying the warm weather as they paddle in the Lymington River at Balmer Lawn in the New Forest, Hampshire today
Security guards are seen patrolling the busy beachfront on Bournemouth on Friday as temperatures soar across the UK
Britons are set to bask in 84F heat while temperatures soar and are set to make a perfect weekend before the rain is due to sweep in next week. Pictured: A woman enjoys the sun on Clapham Common
Sun-seekers enjoy the warm weather at Clapham Common today as temperatures across the country continue to rise
Two people enjoy the sizzling sun along the Putney embankment in London today as temperatures soar to 84F today
A gigantic swarm of flying ants 50 miles which can be seen from space has shown up on the Met Office’s weather radar today as Britons bask in 84F sunshine on one of the hottest days of the year. Those looking to have a Friday-night barbecue in the south of England and Wales will be in luck as it is set to see the hottest temperatures
Why flying ants swarm
Ants swarm in order to mate – travelling on a journey known as a ‘dispersal’ or a ‘nuptial flight’.
After being born from a queen ant and fed up by worker ants, sexually mature ants leave the nest to procreate.
Swarming, a group activity, increases the odds of mating and gives strength in numbers, deterring predators.
This behaviour is triggered by certain weather conditions – such as bright sunlight, high humidities, warm temperatures and calm winds.
These conditions tend to happen around late Spring and early Summer, and can cause multiple colonies to swarm in a single area.
Swarming at the same time increases the likelihood of finding a mate.
Flying ants will gather together in clumps to mate on high structures – a phenomenon experts dub ‘hilltopping’.
After mating, around half the male ants die – having served their purpose.
Meanwhile, the fertilised queen ants will fly around trying to find a good site to start a new colony.
Different ant species prefer different environments for their nests – with some liking decaying wood and others cracks in pavements.
When a nesting site is found, the queen breaks off her wings, never to fly again.
Her wings muscles are converted into fuel to keep her going as she begins laying her eggs.
The Royal Society of Biology is studying why this phenomenon occurs and are investigating what weather conditions encourage ants to fly.
‘After four years of our flying ant survey, we have found that flying ant day isn’t as predictable as we had at first thought,’ the group said.
It comes as delighted sunbathers were seen flocking to Lyme Regis beach in Dorset while early-morning exercise enthusiasts took to Clapham Common to make the most of the high temperatures before they drop next week.
Met Office charts show temperatures of 72F in the south by Tuesday – though its long-range forecast shows any warmer weather will be ‘short-lived’ until at least mid August.
Flocks of children were seen taking to Lymington Sea Water Baths in Hampshire on Friday as it reopened for the first time during coronavirus lockdown.
The lido is the oldest and largest in the UK. Swimmers have to book a time slot online and numbers have been restricted to around 100 swimmers a day, 10 per cent of its usual capacity.
A band of rain will move from Scotland and Northern Ireland into the north of England later today but sunnier skies are set to follow.
Those looking to have a Friday-night barbecue in the south of England and Wales will be in luck as it is set to see the hottest temperatures.
Met Office Nicola Maxey that those in the southeast have a ‘hot day to come’ on Friday, with highs of 84F.
Ms Maxey said despite the highs today in the south, Scotland will be a mixture of ‘sunny spells and showers’, with temperatures set at about 18C.
‘There will be showers throughout the weekend, most likely in Scotland and northern England.’
She said that while Friday is likely to see the hottest temperatures of the weekend, but Saturday will still be very warm at 82F.
Things will start to cool off on Sunday as a cold front pushes in from the north and sees temperatures drop to about 70F.
Rain may return tonight in central parts of the UK but it will be clearer in the north. The south of England is likely to stay dry and warm into tomorrow.
Wales, northern and central England will see more rain tomorrow while sunny skies are set to stay in the south.
Those in Scotland and Northern Ireland should expect showers with some sunny spells.
More rain will be spotted on Sunday all over the country but is likely to dry off and reveal some sunny skies afterwards.
Farmers have been making the most of the fine weather to harvest their bumper crop of lavender as the UK looks forward to a warm weekend.
Two people lie back on the deck chairs and soak up the sun on the beach in Margate, Kent, as mercury levels rise in the UK
One woman enjoys a book on Putney embankment as as temperatures rocket and sun-seekers flock to the seaside today.
Sun-seekers are enjoying the warm weather on the beach in Margate, Kent, as parts of the UK enjoy glorious sunshine today
People gather along the Putney embankment as the Met Office charts showed temperatures of 72F in the south by Tuesday
Two women read their books in the warm weather on the beach in Margate, Kent, ahead of the predicted warm weather across the south of England this weekend
Sun-seekers are enjoying the warm weather on the beach in Bournemouth, as parts of the UK enjoy glorious sunshine today
A speed boat passes the P&O crusie ship Arcadia which is anchored off the beach in Bournemouth today
A woman on the seafront in Margate, Kent today, as parts of the UK enjoy warm weather ahead of a scorching
People enjoying the fine weather on Putney embankment on a hot humid day in London. A mini heatwave is forecast to last all weekend with sweltering temperatures reaching 84F in parts of the UK
woman enjoys the warm weather by the beach in Margate, Kent, as parts of the UK enjoy warm weather today
A couple sunbathe at the beach in Dorset while the UK experiences extraordinarily high temperatures of up to 84F today
Two women are seen using their mobile phones as they enjoy glorious summer sunshine on Clapham Common today
A man sunbathes on Clapham Common as he listens to music on his phone ahead of a weekend of scorching weather
Two women chat and play with their phones as they sunbathe on Clapham Common today as temperatures hit 84F
Three women chat and sunbathe on Clapham Common in south London today as temperatures soar to 84F
A cold front is slowly sinking in, meaning patchy rain at times, despite the highs, before a drop in temperatures into next week. Pictured: A woman doing yoga on Clapham Common
Members of the public enjoy the sunshine on pedalos on the Serpentine in Hyde Park as temperatures soar to 84F
Finn Collingwood, 14, jumps into Lymington Sea Water Baths on Friday as the UK is set to see temperatures soar to 84F
And farmers have been making the most of the fine weather to harvest their bumper crop of lavender as the UK looks forward to a warm weekend. Pictured is a lavender field in Norfolk
Lymington Sea Water Baths is the oldest and largest lido in the UK, and have reopened to the general public today. Pictured are brothers James, 16, and Myles, 12
People visit the beach in Bournemouth as parts of the UK enjoy warm weather today
People enjoy the warm weather on the beach in Margate, Kent, as parts of the UK enjoy warm weather today
A woman is spotted rowing along the River Thames in Maidenhead, Berkshire, in the sunlight on Friday morning
A man is spotted taking a jog without any shoes on while basking in the sunlight on Clapham Common
One man rows along the River Thames by Putney embankment as hundreds continue to flock to the nation’s outdoor spaces to enjoy the sun
Piera Annalise, 28, enjoys a day on the beach as she takes selfies along the Bournemouth coastline
Claire Piddington and her son Isaac, three, were spotted making sand castles on Bournemouth beach on Friday morning
Pictured are two women making the most of the glorious weather and taking to Clapham Common for a bit of exercise
***Have you seen any flying ants? ***
Send us your pictures – email@example.com
Growers at Norfolk Lavender near Hunstanton were out in their 100 acres of lavender fields as England looks set to see highs of 84F today.
Norfolk Lavender was founded in 1932 when three men and a boy planted 13,000 lavender plants on six acres of land in 18 days for a total of £15.
The purple lavender has been harvested every year since and the oil is distilled to make perfumes and cosmetics.
Norfolk Lavender now houses the national collection of more than 100 varieties.
Lavender was first introduced to Britain by the Romans and during medieval times it was grown in the monasteries for culinary and medicinal use.
During Tudor times its popularity increased and England was covered in acres of lavender fields.
The Victorians used the plant as perfume scent and for flavouring honeys, jams and custard.
Cosmetic companies such as Yardley later fuelled the growing trend by producing hundreds of gallons of lavender oil.
A woman is seen on a jog in the bright sunlight on Friday morning on Clapham Common
By World War One lavender had become the most common antiseptic and it was also used to disinfect hospital walls, but it slowly went out of fashion with scientific advancements.
Soon cheaper lavender was being imported from Provence and Britain’s fertile lavender fields were gradually flattened to make way for new buildings.
Over the last decade lavender has seen a revival in England with more people using its essential oil to treat a wide range of conditions from migraines and skin complaints to stress, depression, tension and exhaustion.
***Have you seen any flying ants? Send us your pictures – firstname.lastname@example.org***
Growers at Norfolk Lavender (pictured) near Hunstanton were out in their 100 acres of lavender fields as England looks set to see highs of 84F today