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Seagulls Acting Off Their Heads 'On Acid' Are Set To Cause Chaos This Summer

Emily Brown

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Seagulls Acting Off Their Heads 'On Acid' Are Set To Cause Chaos This Summer

Where humans have happy hours and bank holidays to spur on questionable behaviour, seagulls apparently have 'Flying Ant Day', which can make them appear drunk or stupid.

The bizarre event takes place as swarms of flying ants up to 50 miles wide invade the UK; a phenomenon that usually takes place in July or August amid a period of hot, still and humid weather.

While it might sound like a terrifying sight for anyone afraid of insects, it offers a feast for seagulls who devour the ants like an all-you-can-eat buffet that has been spiked with intoxicating substances.

A spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), whose favourite sweet treat is evidently M&Ms, explained: “Seagulls are mad for them – they are like M&Ms to them. The gulls go wherever they are.”

You'd hope that because the ants are flying, the seagulls would be encouraged to stay in the air and give unsuspecting beachgoers a break from having their chips stolen. Unfortunately, however, the ants are thought to make the birds appear 'slightly drunk', according to Dr. Rebecca Nesbit from the Society of Biology, meaning they can cause further chaos for humans.

There is speculation the birds' unusual behaviour is down to the fact the ants produce formic acid, which could leave the gulls in some sort of acid-induced stupor.

Seagulls are said to go 'mad' for the flying ants. Credit: Pixabay
Seagulls are said to go 'mad' for the flying ants. Credit: Pixabay

Speaking to The Telegraph about the phenomenon, Dr. Nesbit said: "Some of the slightly odd behaviour we are seeing could be as a result of these ants – it could leave the gulls slightly drunk. It's possible because we know that some ants produce formic acid, and it could be having an effect."

Tony Whitehead, a gull expert from the RSPB, has said the gulls can become distracted and excitable on 'Flying Ant Day', but rather than getting 'drunk', Whitehead has speculated the ants actually just make seagulls happy.

He said: "It was said at one point that they made them drunk, but actually I think they just make them very happy. I think rather than drunk, I think they are distracted and happy and focusing on eating ants rather than looking out for cars for example."

Happy or not, members of the public should keep their eyes peeled for birds behaving badly over the summer, especially if they start distractedly flying into people's windscreens.

In a blog post in 2013, Dr. Nesbit said further studies would be needed to find out about the real impact of formic acid on seagulls, but confirmed Flying Ant Day was indeed a 'special day for gulls'.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: UK News, Animals, Science

Emily Brown
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