Flying ants in the house is a common, albeit relatively harmless, annual phenomenon, especially in the Northern and Eastern states. Most ant species pose no threat, and the swarms start to dwindle in as little as a week.
Swarms of flying ants can be seen during the summer months, and although the ants themselves are not dangerous, their alarming numbers can be a nuisance. In this article, we’re going to look at simple and effective ways to prevent infestation and get rid of flying ants in house.
Flying Ants in House: Unwelcome Guests
First, it’s very important to understand that flying ants are not termites. If you want to eliminate flying ants in the house, you should be able to appreciate the differences between the two species, to adopt an appropriate elimination strategy.
Many people confuse winged ants in the house with termites. You can tell the two species apart by their anatomical differences: a termite is segmented into two parts–the head and the body, whereas an ant’s body has three distinct segments–the head, the abdomen, and the thorax. Before you adopt an elimination strategy to get rid of winged ants in the house, make sure that the insects are indeed ants and not termites.
Eliminating ant colonies close to the property is the best way to get rid of flying ants in the house. Before we delve into solving the problem, let’s first try to understand what flying ants are and why they take to the air sometimes.
It is important to realize that flying ants are not a separate species. The same species of ants can have winged and wingless individuals; it’s just that the winged ants are specially equipped to mate and colonize new territories. Flying ants live in and emerge from the same colonies as wingless ants. However, when flying ants leave to mate, they never come back. What this means is, if you see black carpenter ants in the house, you may also see flying carpenter ants from the same colony.
Flying ants emerge from their colonies each summer to mate. The ants can only be observed for a day or two when the male ants hover in search of females to mate with. The male ants die soon after mating, while the female ants go on to establish a new colony. Since the swarms disappear so fast, flying ants in the house is a once-a-year phenomenon.
Just as wingless ants, flying ants are attracted to food remains. During the insects’ mating season, if you have foods or leftovers exposed in the kitchen, you’re more likely to get flying ants in house.
The most alarming thing about having ants with wings in the house is that you may not know the severity of the infestation, that is, how many there are or how close the colony is. Most winged ants disperse on their own within a short time; however, if the flying ant situation in your home is particularly serious, or if the ants don’t seem to go away, there are a number of measures you can take.
Understanding Flying Ants
Flying ants are often mistaken for termites. If you want to control flying ants in the house, you should understand the differences between these two species of insects, to know which elimination techniques will be the most effective. In this article, we’re going to look at the causes of flying ants to better understand how to deal with the problem. If you want to learn how to get rid of flying ants, check out “Eradicating an Ant Colony with Bait” and “Effective Prevention Methods.”
When you have flying ants in the house, the most important thing to realize is that these winged ants are not termites. Termites have two body segments–a head and a body, whereas ants have three segments–ahead, an abdomen, and a thorax. Termites also have straight and hairy antennas whereas ants have curly, hairless antennas.
More Annoying than Dangerous
Flying ants in house pose no great threat to the occupants. They don’t usually bite and are not known to carry or spread diseases. The extent of their nuisance is derived from their sheer numbers. If you have ants in the house, winged or otherwise, the best course of option is to locate and eradicate the ants’ nest.
Flying ants are ants on a mission. While most ants don’t have wings, you may have seen swarms of flying ants during spring and summer, or have had to deal with flying ants in the house during certain times of the year. These winged ants are sexually-mature and ready to mate, and their mission is to travel far from their local dwellings and colonize new areas. The wings enable the flying ants to separate from their original colonies and reach areas that are farther away.
You’re more likely to see flying ants in house during the day because they’re attracted to daylight and swarm more often during the hours of daytime. Winged ants in the house can also be seen during evening hours, although this is rarer. Winged ants fly in swarms because it reduces the likelihood of an ant getting eaten by predators such as swallows, seagulls, warblers, swifts or dragonflies. This survival instinct also leads to more ants being able to mate and successfully start a colony.
Male flying ants die soon after mating, whereas the females go on to establish new colonies. These females become queen ants and shed their wings after the mating stage. During the early days of the colony, the shed wings of the female queen ants are used as a source of nutrition. After colonizing a new area, the queen ants lay eggs, a small number of which become female winged ants for the propagation of future generations of colonies.
Flying ants are mostly found in elevated places such as roofs, trees, and hills. The swarms can have ants from many different colonies. If you’ve seen flying ants in the house, it’s probably because there’s a colony somewhere in the vicinity.
In some cases, swarms of flying ants in the house are caused by colonies that are inside the house. Carpenter ants and pharaoh ants often build colonies inside a house, which may lead to swarms of flying ants in house.
Flying ants are most active after periods of heavy rainfall. During the mating stages, a male flying ant can only fertilize one queen whereas a queen ant can mate with different partners. As a result, the queen tends to be highly selective, allowing only the fastest and most promising among the species to mate with her.
The flying ants’ mating ritual lasts for less than a day. The ants mate three to five days after a day of heavy rain, and soon after mating, the males lose their wings, fall off and die. The fertilized female ants go on to develop new colonies. Since the very same species of ants can be winged or wingless, getting rid of flying ants entails the same methods as eliminating wingless ants.
The most preferred places to start a new colony include dead trees or under woodpiles. Only a very small number of fertilized females can successfully go on to create a new colony. This means the number of new colonies is far lesser than the number of fertilized female ants.
In a newly-established colony, before the queen can produce reproductive males, she must produce several thousand worker ants. As a result, it can take up to several years for a new colony to produce sexually-mature winged ants. This means flying-ants only emerge from nests that are mature and thriving. In getting rid of flying ants, your elimination technique should, therefore, focus on long-term strategies that target the nest, rather than short-term techniques that target individual flying ants.