Was your neighbourhood inundated with flying ants on Wednesday?
If so, you’re not alone. The winged insects were reported in droves in Coquitlam, New Westminster, Surrey and Vancouver around the late afternoon.
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Large congregations of the ants were spotted settling down in lawns and on sidewalks.
But while the flying bugs might have startled many people, Simon Fraser University masters of pest management candidate Danielle Hoefele said they’re not harmful.
They are actually queens and males, who pour out to mate and look for nests once per year on what is known as the “nuptual flight,” or — more commonly — “flying ant day.”
“They’re not anything you have to worry about pest-wise, they’re not a pest, and they don’t sting and they don’t bite,” she said.
“They are really nothing to worry about at all except that some people find them a little scary.”
In fact, it’s probably the male ants that should be scared. The mating process is fatal to males, who drop dead after fertilizing a queen.
The newly-impregnated monarch then loses her wings and drops to the ground and begin to search for a place to found a new colony.
“They are in swarms for a reason, trying to find mates,” said Hoeffelle.
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“I don’t specifically know about the biology of this species, but it’s a good chance they’re doing it on purpose to find lots of others to mate with so they get lots of genetic diversity.”
Hoeffelle said the flying ants are likely to remain active in the Lower Mainland over the next few days.
She added that the swarms can be larger after a damp spell like the one that just splashed Metro Vancouver.