Australian seagulls are reportedly getting “drunk” on flying ants in parts of England.
A significant number of dead birds have been found in Paignton, Plymouth, Teignmouth, and other sections of the English countryside. Experts believe this is due to the formic acid produced by the record number of flying ants that are currently plaguing the area.
The Bristol Post explains that the seagulls are stupefied by the acid produced by the insects. The birds are frequently killed by cars as a result.
Society of Biology entomologist Dr. Rebecca Nesbit said the flying ants are invading the country due to the heat. Although formic acid they produce can be toxic to the birds, Dr. Nesbit believes the seagulls are simply getting too hot and full.
However, Dr. Nesbit added that the birds may appear inebriated if they consume enough of the formic acid. This may explain why they don’t get out of the road.
According to BBC News, flying ants are currently invading the countryside in record numbers. Dr. Nesbit explained that this is definitely due to the heat.
“Last year the Society of Biology received well over 6,000 reports in the first flying ant survey — and this year we look set to beat that,” she said.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds spokesman Tony Whitehead said the seagulls are getting “drunk” on the flying ants because they eat them morning, noon, and night.
“Gulls are great opportunists and if there’s an abundance of ants and insects, they’ll just get stuck in and will be so focused on eating, they won’t move for the cars,” Whitehead explained.
Knowle resident Viv Gregory said the sheer number of seagulls that have flocked to the area reminded her of the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds.
“As I started driving up the hill, the seagulls were all over the place, pecking in the road. They’re in the road and they just don’t want to move,” she explained.
What do you think about the seagulls getting “drunk” on flying ants?
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]