Firefighters rushed to tackle what seemed to be a blaze at the imposing basilica in Lisieux, northern France – only to find that it was a giant swarm of flying ants.
A local resident had raised the alarm after seeing “smoke” apparently billowing from the church roof.
Police also rushed there on Wednesday.
Laurent Boivin at the town’s centre for emergencies said “we quickly identified the cloud as flying insects”. “We had feared a big fire inside the basilica.”
He told the BBC: “It was sheer coincidence that the ants chose to swarm above the basilica.”