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Swarms of flying ants reported throughout West Michigan

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WEST MICHIGAN -- Swarms of flying ants seen around West Michigan caused a stir on social media.

Several people took to Facebook Monday to talk about the swarms, which were reported throughout Kent and Ottawa counties. People reported seeing them in Grandville, Jenison and Allendale, among other locations.

An expert with Grand Valley State University says the bugs are yard ants and that once a year, typically around Labor Day, they come out in massive numbers to reproduce.

"Love is in the air, for the ants," James P. Dunn, a professor of biology at GVSU, told FOX 17 on Tuesday.

Dunn says the swarms are average yard ants, and it's now peak season for nearly 50 species of Michigan ants to emerge from the ground and reproduce.

Dunn says the males grow wings specifically to find a mate. The males emerge, reproduce with females and then die. ย The females go back underground to lay a nest and restart the process.

"This is natural," Dunn said. "Man moves into where they used to live, and then we see that and think it's a problem, but it's not really a pest."

The reports on Monday were similar to recent ones in Detroit.

WDIV reports that swarms of flying ants were spotted throughout Metro Detroit Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The ants reportedly popped up for a day or so at the end of the summer to breed.

But how long are the ants here to stay?

"Just a couple days, really... that's it," Dunn said. "They might be out for a week or maybe two at the very most, but it's different groups coming out."

There were also similar flying ant swarm reports recently in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.ย 

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