British Columbia

Flying ants swarming over the Lower Mainland

Flying ants are swarming across the Lower Mainland more than usual this week.

'They sort of keep our world clean. We have this period of time where we become aware of them'

Have you walked through an army of flying ants lately? Relax, they're just mating. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Flying ants are swarming across the Lower Mainland more than usual this week.

UBC zoology professor Judith Meyers says on warm and humid days, they come out with their wings.

"They do a lot of good by feeding on all sorts of dead vegetation … they sort of keep our world clean. We have this period of time where we become aware of them," Meyers said.

The winged ants are the reproductive males and females of a colony, which take flight to mate. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

Every year, the male and female ants emerge from the ground to mate, after which the females become queens of new colonies and the males die.

Meyers says it's important the females mate with ants from other colonies to avoid excessive inbreeding. 

"There's more than one species of flying ants ... we're not very good as common people at distinguishing them," said Meyers.

Despite the obvious concentration of these ants, Meyers says people shouldn't be alarmed.

"Most of the ants do not bite ... I don't think you need to worry at all. Appreciate the phenomenon. Look at all the ants .... and then they go away," she said.

The swarming ants have become a recent topic of conversation on social media.

with files from The Early Edition

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