ANTS! Not Gnats: Swarm Of Bugs Create Buzz In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)—A large swarm of insects created a lot of buzz in Philadelphia on Monday night.

Residents across the city took to Reddit to share their concerns.

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“Probably an exodus from the hurricane,” one person said.

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Credit: Jill Cogan

Garrett O’Dwyer told CBS3, “They swarm into your hair, shoes, and shorts. Safe to say the bugs are firmly in charge.”

One woman said she had to use a fork to fish the bugs out of her wine, while another said she’d find the tiny insects in her food as she ate outside.

“People are running all over Old City and fleeing seeking shelter,” another said.

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Others on Twitter were just as mystified.

“Hmm. No, We don’t know where all of these gnats came from, either. However, we, for one, welcome our new insect overlords,” said Philadelphia police in a Tweet.

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While many folks though the bugs were gnats, it turns out they were wrong. But the Academy of Natural Sciences knew what they were: flying ants. Lots of flying ants.

“What people were talking about,  that was swarming were these ants,” said Isa Betancourt, who researches regional insects for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

“It’s just kind of this great big event that happens across the colonies and this is how new ant colonies are made,” she says.

Every day she takes a sample of bugs that get stuck in the Logan Square fountain.

Yesterday’s findings were different. Her jar was filled to the top.

Scientists don’t know exactly how the ants decide to swarm all at once– but they do know why.

“The reproductive ants the males and females rise up from the nests and it’s their kind of maiden voyage they fly around, find a mate and then right after they mate the female kind of clips off their wings and go find a place to start a nest,” said Betancourt.

They say this can happen every few months. It happened earlier this summer but people didn’t seem to notice as much.

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