Heatwave to bring swarms of flying ants, rare butterflies and dragonflies to Sheffield this week

This week's heatwave is set to bring swarms flying ants, red-eyed damselflys and rare butterflies, according to a local expert.

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 9:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 5:09 pm
LUTON, ENGLAND - MAY 28: A Painted Lady butterfly lands on some flowers on May 28, 2009 in Luton, England. Warm weather and favourable winds have led to the arrival of the largest migration of the Painted Lady species ever seen in the UK. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“I suspect that we will see the hottest day of the year this week,” says Alistair McLean Curator of Natural Science, Museums Sheffield.

This follows high temperatures that have been building up - last July saw a maximum temperature of 32.1 degrees which may be broken this Thursday.

This warm weather is going to have a significant impact on Sheffield’s ecology.

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Red Eyed Damselfly.

Alistair said: “It’s going to be so sunny this week that Sheffield’s river’s will be teeming with dragonflies.

“There was a ropey start to the year weather wise but we can already see that their active today and we’re hoping to see different species that are uncommon in Sheffield.

Alistair is on the lookout for one insect in particular - the Red Eye DamselFly which has never been recorded on Sheffield Canal.

Other critters may also be on the way according to Alistair: “Warm weather is good for flying insects.

“We may be having a flying ant day soon - they normally occur at the start of July but we have not seen any vast quantities yet.

“Insects are going to be a lot more active over the next week - due to the poor weather earlier in the year this may be their only chance to come out.”

But this news is not all doom and gloom the increase of heat is great for Sheffield’s ecology.

“It’s important for the birds - they’re going to have a field day.

“The heat might mean a second or even third brood for both birds and insects.”

“We could see butterfly species such as the Painted Lady come over from the continent which is a lovely big butterfly we don’t see often in the North.

Alistair is excited to record the ecology activity this week.

Dragonflies are cold blooded and get their energy from the sun.

They only fly in sunny spells - if it’s cloudy there will be no flight.

He said: “Over the last 20 years the number of dragonfly species has gone from five to 20.

“This is due to a combination of climate change and water quality - the rivers in Sheffield are much better now.”

“They’re an important predator - they eat midges and flies - the insects which bite us.

“Also they’re lovely to watch - so colourful and inquisitive.

“They can be territorial and buzz around which is a pleasure to observe.