Seagulls dying after getting 'drunk' on flying ants

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Seagulls dying after getting 'drunk' on flying ants
Seagulls dying after getting 'drunk' on flying ants

Over 100 seagulls have been found dead at a lake in Devon - after they got drunk on flying ants.

The birds drowned at the Wistlandpound Reservoir in Devon, and, as the water has been shown to be safe, animal welfare officers believe they could have got tipsy on the ants before falling into the lake.

Swarms of flying ants have boomed during the heatwave, and the insects turn to formic acid in the seagulls' stomachs, which can then act like alcohol.

A spokesman for South West Water told The Sun: "We believe this is a phenomenon of the current environmental conditions and not anything to do with our reservoirs."

The effect of flying ants on seagulls in Devon this summer was first seen in Ilfracombe a couple of weeks ago.

Dozens of birds were spotted on the street leading into the town, with a large number becoming roadkill.

Local resident Viv Gregory said the scene reminded her of Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds, telling the BBC: "As I started driving up the hill, the seagulls were all over the place, pecking in the road. I've never seen it before. They're in the road and they just don't want to move."

Dr Rebecca Nesbit, an entomologist with the Society of Biology, told the BBC that the formic acid in the ants "isn't so good for the birds - it could leave them a bit drunk".

She said it could explain why they were not flying off when vehicles approached.

According to the Bristol Post, experts also believe that a rise in seagull attacks on humans could also be due to them getting tipsy on flying ants.

Locals have reported the gulls causing noise nuisance, as well as raiding bins and even stealing food from people's hands.

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