DRUNKEN seagulls are set to go on a rampage this summer as the county’s avian issues take an unexpected turn.

Sussex's warm weather is causing an influx of flying ants – a favourite snack of the seagull.

It is causing mayhem for the birds, as the ants contain formic acid, which causes seagulls to become “drunk” when consumed in large amounts.

It means they will have difficulty getting around and will be seen staggering along the shore - not all that different to the stag or hen-dos that frequent our seaside towns.

The situation is expected to be so severe that Sompting Wildlife Rescue (SWR) issued a warning.

“When the ants nests hatch and the gulls come down and eat them all, they literally trough them,” said Pete Hoggon, a veterinary nurse and co-founder of SWR.

“You get them in a clot the size of a tennis ball, and there they are, essentially drunk.

“If they have too many they end up paralysed. A lot of people don’t know about it, and they might then get put to sleep.

The Argus: Picture by: Rebecca Calderbank‎Picture by: Rebecca Calderbank‎

“They end up all over the place. Wondering in the road, hit by cars, flying in to bus stops.”

Huge concerns have also been raised as the symptoms are similar to those of bird flu, which has plagued the gulls in recent weeks.

The rescue group said that seagulls infected with bird flu can be lethargic and “not move”, while ones enjoying a few too many flying ants will be seen “staggering around”.

Amid a recent spate of avian flu cases one seagull was seen to “drop from the sky” mid-flight, and has led Brighton and Hove City Council to put up more than 150 warning signs around the city.

The council states on its website: “The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that bird flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

“However, do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find and keep dogs on a lead.

“Anyone who has been in direct touching contact with visibly sick or dead birds should wash their hands immediately.”