Why do ants have wings? and other flying ant info

You might be alarmed, just as I was, by a sudden swarm of flying ants in the area. Do not worry as these do not pose a threat. Ants suddenly developing wings is simply a part of their circle of life and an effort to continue their colony. I wanted to know more about it so I looked online and I’m going to tell you what I found.

At certain times of the year, you might notice that ants suddenly have wings. It regularly happens at the start of the year. The ants that develop wings during their reproductive stages are called alates and are of no threat to humans.

A change in season and weather is the catalyst for this new winged swarm. This is usually at the beginning of spring but can happen when there have been recent rains. However, this can happen in summer as well.

Note that worker ants such as the ones foraging around will not develop wings as they do not play a part in the reproductive cycle. Only certain ants for reproduction will get wings. There are specific ants which are born with the ability to grow wings and are solely for reproduction. The females are born to become queens to colonies and the males are drones born solely to mate and will die soon after

Why do ants need to fly?

These flying ants need wings because they need to fly off away from the colony to breed. The ants that you see with wings are either the male drones or the female future queen ants, these are the only ants that can seek, meet, and reproduce. These are the ants responsible for continuing the colony. This process can last from a few hours to several days, it is dependent on the size of the swarms. Swarms release dozens of individual winged ants to reproduce.

You will notice the queen ant from others by her sheer size. She’s the largest of them all, if you were to compare her to the worker she is 3 times the length of the worker ant. The queen needs to be this size because her body is needed to produce eggs and to support homes.

The male ants are about a similar size to the worker ants, the difference is that they have wings and will be seen only when they fly from the nest.

The worker ants range from 0.55 to 0.91 inches making them the smallest. They are the type of ant usually seen on a daily basis

Select few

Not all ants in the colony will get wings and reproduce, in addition only some ant species will fly during the breeding season. Pavement ants are a species that develop wings during the mating season Certain ant species do not fly, when it’s time to breed they instead go through budding. This is when the queen and the accompanying males leave the nest and walk to a new site to form a new colony.

With flying ants multiple swarms can be seen at once. This is timed dependent on the season and weather, these environmental changes enables and encourages ants to reproduce. They also come together to mate at a specific location, this increases the success rate. This would be for example a large tree in the area, this is so that they easily find each other to reproduce and become successful.

Seeing multiple swarms at once

Around mid-spring, you can find swarms of ants leaving the colonies, by releasing many ants they are increasing the chances of survival. The number of ants that actually get to mate is very small, a colony usually sends a very large number of flying ants out. This is because a large majority of them will be either be eaten by other predators such as dragonflies and birds or other ants in the swarm will not reach the mate because they can die beforehand due to a lack of water and food.

 How does it work

After mating the queen removes her wings and then proceeds to start a new nest. The male, on the other hand, has completed its job and will die soon after.

Are they dangerous?

Although they are not harmful they will pose a problem in your house if you get an infestation. If you find that some have wandered into your house leave out bait which is effective in controlling the population. If you find a swarm of these ants in your house then this can be cause for alarm as it can be a sign of infestation.

Where do they go afterwards?

After they meet the female is on the lookout for a new nesting place. A site which can accommodate her needs. Each type of ant species needs something different as a habitat such as on sidewalks or in decaying wood

When she finally finds a suitable habitat she pulls her wings off and discards them as she will not fly again. Her flying muscles have nutrients that will sustain her. She will then start to lay eggs to create a new colony.

Is there an infestation in my house?

If you see a couple of flying ants in your house this does not necessarily mean that you have an infestation in your house but there might be a colony close by. Even though the ants are looking for a new place to create a colony a large number of them will die before they even get to mate. In addition, the queen might not be able to find a suitable location to build a colony in your house as she needs the right genetics, location, weather and lack of predators

That being said if you see much more than a couple around then you might have an issue on your hands. Seeing a large number of ants in your house can mean that you have a colony or infestation in your house, this can be on your porch, in your garage or in your garden. If you do have an infestation you need to deal with this ant problem immediately.

How to get rid of flying ants

Clean up: You can vacuum up the swarm using a hand-held vacuum. After vacuuming be sure to discard the bag in the trash making sure the ants can’t escape.

The woodwork: Be sure to remove any possible habitats that they can create colonies in such as pieces of debris. Keep debris and firewood 20 feet away from the entrances of your house.

Products: You can use insecticide, insect dust, insect sprays or baits to treat the problem. Bait is usually the best option in my opinion as they will pick it up and bring it back to the colony poisoning the entire colony. For an article on the best products to get rid of them here is a link.

Natural: A natural way to get rid of the ants is to use dish soap and peppermint oil solution. Mix 1 part liquid soap, a few drops of oil and 2 parts water and spray onto the affected areas. Peppermint oil is beneficial as it suffocates the ants and the dish soap is a dehydrator to them.

If you enjoyed this article, found it helpful or think someone else would find it interesting or helpful please share it. I would really appreciate it.

Why do ants have wings? and other flying ant info
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