“The ants have been on the move to higher ground since Christmas. They know something’s coming.”
They’ve been a common sight in Aussie kitchens this summer — and seemingly more so than other years.
But comments similar to that above, found on an amateur weather enthusiast’s Facebook post about a cyclone forming off Queensland, suggesting that the presence of ants in homes could be the sign of another major weather event, have been doing the rounds on social media.
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“The honey ants are in our house again (Brisbane). The last time they were inside was Feb 2022 (our last significant flood event), and before that was just before the 2011 floods,” reads one such comment.
Another says: “Well, something is coming, I can’t seem to get rid of the ants.”
Modelling of predicted Cyclone Kirrily suggests the storm could move down the eastern seaboard. Credit: 7NEWS
Probably with a hint of sarcasm, others have even concluded ants are better at predicting the weather than trained meteorologists.
The path of possible Cyclone Kirrily, expected to form within days, remains unknown.
Some modelling shows a possibility it could hit the Queensland coast and move down the eastern seaboard, possibly as a tropical low, bringing heavy rain.
While that’s cold comfort to residents of flood-prone areas, what is certain is there appears to be no scientifically proven correlation between the movement of ants into homes and major rainfall.
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“There are lots of anecdotal stories about it, but there’s not scientific proof that ants are able to predict oncoming rainfall events,” Queensland Museum entomologist Chris Burrell told 7NEWS.com.au.
“That’s not to say it’s not possible. I mean, ants have very different sensory systems than we do and potentially, maybe, they could predict changes in temperature and barometric pressure.
“But, really, no one has managed to prove it.
“So the short answer is no, we don’t think they can predict it, but we’re open-minded.”
What could be setting the ants off is the wet weather eastern Queensland has already had — as well as the heat.
Could the behaviour of ants be a predictor for major weather events? An expert says no. Credit: Getty Images
And ants have the capability to respond to wet weather events “very quickly” when they occur, according to Burrell.
“If it is beginning to rain, often they can mobilise and get all the workers in the nest to shift the brood and queen,” he said.
“Insect activity in general is always higher in the warmer months. When it’s warm and wet, those are the ideal conditions for insects.
“If you’ve got an ants nest in your house already, you may just not see them in the winter because insect activity is low, but when it warms up and when it rains, that’s when you start to get more activity inside.”