'I thought the bush was catching fire': Huge swarm of flea beetles spotted in Hampshire village

Footage shows a swarm of tiny black flea beetles jumping out of bushes and taking flight - creating the sound of a crackling open fire.

Monday, 16th September 2019, 1:03 pm
Updated Monday, 16th September 2019, 1:03 pm

The swarm made a loud, burning-like sound as they flew around bushes and landed on people at a business park in the yachting village of Hamble, near Southampton, on Friday afternoon.

The beetles were also causing a nuisance at the Southampton Boat Show in Southampton, and were spotted 45 miles further along the coast in Poole, Dorset.

Their appearance are being linked to the surprise warm weather.

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The beetle swarm in Hamble, Hampshire. Picture: Simon Czapp/Solent News & Photo Agency

It comes after the Pyramids Leisure Centre in Southsea was closed for three days after flying beetles got into the air conditioning vents.

Simon Czapp, 34, who captured the footage, said: ‘I was walking past the bush and I heard the noise, and I thought the bush was catching fire.

‘Then I noticed all of the beetles jumping out of the bush and and filling the air.

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Picture: Simon Czapp/Solent News & Photo Agency

‘I was sat on a bench and I had at least 20 of them crawling around on me at once.

‘I've never seen this before so I grabbed my phone and filmed it.’

Swarms appear to have appeared along the south coast, as Steve Keen, from Lymington, tweeted: ‘Have just had the “pleasure” of working in a very large swarm of what appeared to be flea beetles.

‘Mostly drifted off south. Never seen anything quite like it before.’

Picture: Simon Czapp/Solent News & Photo Agency

Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve also tweeted: ‘A swarm of flea beetles flying earlier covered everything.’

They're most often found nesting in shasta daisies, sweet peas, and cauliflowers.

Normally at this stage of the year, flea beetles have found sheltered spots in deciduous woodland to see out the winter, awaiting next year's warm temperatures before they can begin feasting on pollen again.

But warmer temperatures mean the beetles have stuck around a little longer.

People enjoying a late summer BBQ need not to worry as pollen beetles don't normally bite people, but gardeners will be disappointed to hear they are sticking around for a little while longer - the bugs are classified as pests, and can cause significant damage to plants.