Get inside and shut all your doors and windows, because the ant-pocalypse has descended on Leeds.
Okay, that might be a tad dramatic, but there are thousands - if not millions - of flying ants making their way across Leeds this evening in what is known as Flying Ant Day. And people have taken to social media to share their footage of ant encounters...
Flying Ant Day is an informal term for the day on which queen ants emerge from the nest to begin their nuptial flight.
In most species, the male ants fly alongside them, although they are smaller and less noticeable. The queens fly around – some covering very long distances, others only a few metres – then mate and drop to the ground, where they lose their wings and attempt to start a new ant colony.
The mass of flying insects often attracts the attention of predators such as birds, and it is common to see flocks gorging on the readily available food.
This phenomenon occurs in many colonies simultaneously when local weather conditions are appropriate, to reduce the effectiveness of predation, and to ensure that the queens and males from different colonies stand a chance of meeting and interbreeding.
It therefore has the appearance of being a 'timed' event or that the ants somehow communicate. However neither of these is likely to be the case – it is simply a common response to temperature, humidity and wind speed and time of year.
Today has been warm and dry, which has led to the explosion of ants this evening...