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Giant swarm of flying ants shows up on weather radar


Is Earth trying to kill us?

OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Adding to the surreal feeling that 2020 has consisted of a series of Exodus-style plagues, a huge swarm of flying ants swept across the United Kingdom on Saturday, and the swarm was so huge and so dense that weather radar mistakenly identified it as rain.

Brits were understandably confused when the U.K.'s Meteorological Office (known as the Met Office) displayed a weather map Sunday showing that it was raining in several places where absolutely no precipitation was falling.

The Met Office's Twitter account quickly attempted to clear things up and sheepishly admitted that a giant cloud of flying ants was to blame for the mishap.

Some initial reports erroneously stated that the cloud of ants was so huge that it was visible from space, but the Met Office quickly cleared up any confusion on that.


The radar error was due to a phenomenon known as Flying Ant Day, which occurs once a year in the U.K. Flying ants across the country leave their nests in a frenzied search for mates. As a result, billions of ants take to the skies at essentially the same time.

It should be noted, there is at least some amount of scientific disagreement as to whether Flying Ant Day is a misconception and that some scientists have suggested that the existence of a single Flying Ant Day is really a myth that is fed by the phenomenon of people remarking about it repeatedly on social media.

Either way, this particular cloud of flying ants was clearly unusual. BBC meteorologist Bryan King said that this was the largest cloud of insects he'd ever seen in the U.K.: "For it to actually to appear on the radar imagery, that's something certainly incredible, and I just feel sorry for all the people who have to experience those flying ants."

Perhaps equally pestilential were the massive flocks of seagulls that were reported to have congregated upon the cloud in order to enjoy a flying ant feast.

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