Millions of flying ants have been detected by radar over London and the South East – and some of the bugs could swarm to Wembley which hosts the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.
There is no single “flying ant day” – but rather a period of time between June and September when conditions are right for the critters to mate during flight.
And the Wembley final between England and Italy is now firmly within this interval.
Adam Hart, professor of Science Communication at the University of Gloucestershire and a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, told Sky News that today’s swarms were just the beginning of the season for this year’s ants.
He said: “If conditions are right on Sunday there may be more than three lions on shirts at Wembley and all around the country.”
Radar imagery released by the Met Office on Friday showed that countless flying insects were detected over southeast England – with large parts of London including Wembley among the throngs of creepy-crawlies.
Flying ants are not unusual at sporting venues, as the timeframe for such events tends to coincide with the tennis at Wimbledon.
In the past, competitors and officials have been seen to struggle with the insects on the courts.
Sky News meteorologist Kirsty McCabe said: “Usually, signals from creatures like insects are filtered out by the Met Office’s network of weather radars. But on flying ant days, the swarms are so large they can dominate the signal.
“Luckily the confusion doesn’t last for long, as the reflectivity of an ant is rather different to that of a raindrop, leading to a tell-tale ‘clutter’ pattern on the radar.
“And after a quick check with satellite imagery, rain gauges and social media, the tiny culprits are soon revealed.”
Professor Hart added: “It’s exciting to see the first of the big “flying ant” events that will continue over the summer.
“Unlike the wingless worker ants we normally see, ‘flying ants’ have wings and are quite a bit larger.
“The biggest ones are females – potential new queen ants – and the smaller ones are males.
“They often leave the nests in which were raised on warmer days with light winds, just before rain is due.
“They mate in the air and the females will dig a hole and try to start a new nest, if they avoid the gulls.”
A win would see the Three Lions secure their first major silverware since the World Cup in 1966.