About that plague of flying bugs in the Philadelphia area

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Winged black ants.

It’s orgy time.

That’s how bug expert Jon Gelhaus explains the sudden appearance of swarms of flying ants around the Philadelphia area that has left some residents puzzled, and others annoyed.

They are, says Gelhaus, harmless and just playing out their part in the cycle of life..

Flying ants, similar to gnats, they just want to mate, said Gelhaus, professor and curator of the Department of Entomology at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Science. They get ready around this time of year based on temperatures and the time of sundowns, then make their move after a good rain moistens soil, making conditions just right for laying eggs.

“I didn’t want to say it, but that’s exactly right, it’s orgy time,” Gelhaus said. “They’re annoying, but these boys and girls are out there for a very brief period of time.”

A majority of the swarming males will not have sex and will die, likely to be eaten by birds or other insects and spiders, Gelhaus said. The swarms disappear after a day or two. He warns, however, it could happen with other species in the weeks ahead.

The species has been identified as Lasius neoniger, an ant common to the area.

Before the experts weighed in, there were questions about bugs and whether they were  gnats, flying ants or termites.

And as is wont with such a phenomenon, the plague exploded on social media.

The Philadelphia police were in the gnats camp and acknowledged helplessness in the face of the invasion.

Philly Public Health has no suggestions about what to do, but what NOT to do.

Like everyone else, Kristen Fitch wanted to know their origins. And here it was they were amongst all along, waiting for the right time to emerge from the earth.

And it became clear, we were not alone.

Joanie Clover also reports sightings in the Buffalo area.

Meanwhile, back in Philly.

And across the river, Gary Szatkowski, former head meteorologist at the Mount Holly National Weather Service Office, reported a huge swarm

But the last word belongs to the Academy of Natural Science, which gave Twitter the answer to the source of the scourge.