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Most of the time when you think of ants, you probably envision ants crawling across the ground and through the grass, building their ant mounds. However, there are certain species of ants that do have wings, swarm and will fly. Usually this happens during key points of the year and indicates a colony is about to build a nest somewhere around your home.
Many times people confuse flying ants and termites. However, there are distinctive differences between the two types of insects and they are important to know.
Flying ants aren’t genetic mutants. When ants gain the ability to fly, they’ve become sexually mature. They use their colony structure to the advantage, as the queen creates ants that are able to reproduce and, thus, help set up new colonies. The ants that are able to breed are referred to as “reproductive.” Once the queen produces them, worker ants make sure they stay fed as they go through their immature phases during the development process. When the colony is ready to expand naturally, the winged ants take flight.
Mature female and male ants fly away from their colonies with one goal: to mate. People who study bugs refer to this voyage as a “nuptial flight,” which is also called a “dispersal.” You may have heard it called a swarm. Flying makes it possible for ants to mate with ants from other areas. By doing so, the insects are able to avoid the disease vulnerabilities that occur when any creature is inbred. Ants are ingenious creatures, and this is one the reasons why they’re so hard to exterminate. Quite simply, they’re the ultimate survivors.
So, if you spot ants in your home and notice that they have wings, this is cause for alarm, as it means you may have an already-existing infestation on your hands.
After mating, the male ants die, and the fertilized female ant flies around searching for the perfect nesting site. Different ant species have different nesting preferences. Some, like carpenter ants, prefer to live in rotting wood structures. They like Virginia due to its humid conditions (especially in the eastern part of the state) that create plenty of rotting wood. Pavements ants, on the other hand, make nests in sidewalk cracks, while odorous house ants are prevalent virtually everywhere.
In her search for the best digs, a female ant might happen upon your home or business. Once she chooses a nesting location, she breaks off her wings and will never again take to the skies. This new queen will begin the arduous task of starting her own colony. She’ll use her defunct flying muscles for food, and they’ll give her the strength that she needs to lay eggs as well. Before you know it, the eggs will hatch, leading a colony that can number into the thousands without proper treatment.
If you run into a big swarm of winged insects, it can be an intimidating experience – and one that might creep you out. But when ants are swarming, they are only interested in mating. A flying ant isn’t any more dangerous to you than a regular one crawling along the ground. If an ant species doesn’t have the ability to sting and won’t bite, then the flying breeders won’t either. But keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to stroll through a swarm of any insects, so do your best to avoid them. If they’re close to your residence, consider them a sign that you may have an infestation.
Flying ants are different than flying termites. Flying termites come out in the spring and are often the first indication that a serious, potentially damaging, termite infestation might be in the works on your property. Termites and ants require different treatment methods, so knowing the difference is key.
Termites are generally smaller than ants and their wings are the same length and generally longer than the body.
The shape of the antenna is different from ants to termites. Termites have straight antenna and flying ants have bent antenna.
The shape of the abdomen is also different between the termite and the flying ant. Flying ants have thin abdomens and appear as segments. Termites tend to have straight-looking abdomens that do not have as many segments.
Ants fly and appear in swarms for much the same reason that termites do. They are getting ready to reach out and start a new colony. They fly in order to find a good place to start a colony and to look for suitable mates.
Much of the time flying ants will emerge and set out on their swarming flights after a heavy rain, but they can also come out at other times. This often means rainy seasons see the highest number of flying ants, but because ants fly to create new colonies, they can swarm at any time of the year.
Carpenter ants and pharaoh ants are just two species of ant that have flying ants in their colonies. Although carpenter ants can chew through wood and create property damage, generally speaking flying ants are not dangerous. They are not more likely to bite and they are not poisonous. They are, however, annoying and a swarm of flying ants can lead to a full-on ant infestation around your home.
Ehrlich Pest Control flying ant specialists can help seek out their nests and figure out how they are getting inside your home. We also offer the most effective solutions to get rid of the existing colony and then search for solutions to prevent them from returning.
Don't try dealing with flying ants on your own. Contact Ehrlich Pest Control today and discuss getting rid of flying ants today.