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University of Leeds Flying Ant Day Survey

What is the difference between an insect and a raindrop? Weather radars are constantly collecting information about rain, but in doing so a lot of other data is collected too – including things that we think are insects. Insects fulfil important ecological roles, including pollinating flowering plants, and being able to reliably monitor insect activity is important for their conservation. Using weather radar data is a new way of monitoring what insects are doing over large distances (which isn’t currently possible), which may help with managing pest species, as well as protecting insect communities more widely.

But to do this we need your help!

Each year in the UK we witness flying ant day. Over several days each summer, ants, like the black garden ant (Lasius niger) take to the air to mate and disperse. We are using this event to see if this massive increase in aerial insect activity is detectable by our weather radars. If you have seen flying ants this year please report your sightings using our quick and simple web-form – we’d really appreciate it! The form can be found here:, and takes about a minute to fill in.