September 12, 2017
Flying insects spotted in swarms around Philadelphia is the kind of stuff nightmares are made of.
Residents from South Philadelphia, Center City, Fishtown, South Jersey and even parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties spotted dozens of what experts are now saying were flying ants, NBC10 first reported late Monday.
"My block has been taken over by flying ants," Bella Vista resident Garrett O'Dwyer said on Twitter on Monday, later adding that he could count "hundreds on every surface."
Like O'Dwyer, many took to social media to voice their concern.
did a swarm of flying ants descend on philly what the heck man!!!!— Dennis (@GipperGrove) September 11, 2017
Who invited all of these flying ants to Philadelphia???— Kristen Fitch (@switchfitch) September 12, 2017
The city is aware of the insect issue but doesn't know much about them either.
The official Twitter account for Philadelphia's Department of Public Health joked that its "only recommendation at this time is to NOT use flamethrowers," while the Philadelphia Police Department said that it welcomes the new "insect overlords."
Have gotten some calls from the media about what to do with flying ants. Our only recommendation at this time is to NOT use flamethrowers. pic.twitter.com/u9nkgcOe95— Philly Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) September 12, 2017
Hmm. No, We don't know where all of these gnats came from, either. However, we, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. pic.twitter.com/ma5xq1pYxw— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) September 12, 2017
On the do-to-list: Add the option for how to deal with swarms of bugs in Philadelphia as a service request for our citizens. 👍— Philly311 (@philly311) September 12, 2017
The winged creatures also made quite the splash during Wimbledon in early July, finding their way into the players' hair and faces, according to the Guardian.
So what gives? Flying ants, also called alates, are "ants that are sexually mature," according to pest removal company Terminix. Their purpose is to reproduce and start a new colony, and they're harmless.
While there hasn't been any reported speculation that the swarms of bugs are flying termites, the two often get confused for one another. Orkin, also a pest removal company, says that termites can be distinguished by a straighter body and antennae and four wings that are equal in size. The ants have bent antennae with a pinched waist, according to the company.
Check out Orkin's handy guide here.