What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown Insect Behaviour
Location: Southern North Carolina
August 20, 2017 5:17 am
Friends of ours down in S. North Carolina had a strange phenomenon this weekend. A long writhing, living, rope of insects in mid-air. None of us have ever seen this before and are wondering A) what these flying insects are, and B) what causes this behavior (mating maybe)?
You guys are great, thanks!!
Signature: Cheers!

Mysterious “Rope” of Insects

This is surely a strange phenomenon.  Our initial guess is that they must be Gnats or Midges, and we are going to attempt to provide a more conclusive response for you.  We wish there was more detail in the close-up image.  We can’t even tell if these flying insects have two wings or four wings.  Flies in the order Diptera, the group that includes Gnats and Midges, have one pair of wings while other insects, like swarming Flying Ants, have two sets of wings.

Gnats or Midges????

P.S.  Were they dead or alive?  They appear dead.

They were alive.  I couldn’t get the video he has up on FB, but they are definitely moving.  They are joined somehow, very odd.  Want me to see if they’ll share the video?
MC

Mysterious “Rope” of Insects

Update from Eric Eaton:  August 25, 2017
Daniel:
No idea what the insects are.  I’d have to see specimens or at least microscope images.
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

Update:  August 26, 2017
Finally!  I hope these don’t get kicked back due to size.  If so, I’ll throw them up on DropBox and send you the link.
Hope this helps,
Mike Coughlin
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Dear Mike,
Thanks for sending in the videos.  Normally we don’t post videos to our site so we hope we did it correctly.  We believe these are Flying Ants, which is what they appear to be in the close-up video.  The wide angle video shows many swarming insects near the “rope” of insects.  Perhaps they have gotten ensnared in the sticky strands of a spider web.

Great, glad you got them!  I looked at it more closely yesterday as well. And I agree, they do appear to be flying ants.
The odd thing is the way that they’re all lined up – you wouldn’t expect to see them as densely aligned in that configuration.
Mother Nature!
Cheers,
M Coughlin
It is our suspicion that two completely unrelated phenomena have occurred simultaneously to create the “ropes” of insects.  There was a swarm of Flying Ants and there was a silken thread, either from a Spider dropping an anchor line for a web or from a Caterpillar that was using a silken thread to decend from a tree.  That silken thread then provided a landing strip for the ants.  We might be incorrect, but that is our speculation.

 

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: North Carolina

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