flying ants Misconceptions about Flying Ants
Ants aren’t generally thought of by humans in terms of endearment. In fact, most people then to think of flying ants or as nasty, dirty, destructive, disease-carrying, and even dangerous little insects. While some species can be truthfully accused of these things, generally people have strong misconceptions about ants and flying ants. Here are some basic facts about ants in general and some more specific details that should help dispel some of the misconceptions that have given ants such a bad reputation with humans. We should all know about these things as the odds are very high that we will encounter ants during our lifetime. The truth of the matter is…we are outnumbered by them and they have spread to every continent on the planet except the Polar Regions.
Some ants, like the fire ant, the siafu ant ( Dorylus, also known as driver ants, safari ants, or siafu ” old world army ant ” ), and the bullet ant can be very dangerous indeed. The real question should be, “Are all ants dangerous?” This question can be easily answered with a resounding “No.” Most ants are not dangerous like the aforementioned ants.
All ants share a similarity to each other and are in the same order as hornets and wasps, but not all will bite or sting. They will defend their colonies from invaders and they will protect each other, but most will simply try to stay away from humans. They will come into your home foraging for food and water, but they do not look at humans or other large animals as a food source. Even red ants will usually leave humans alone unless they are defending their territory and colony.
Most ants don’t cause any damage when they come into your home with the exception of carpenter ants. Even then, carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood in homes as many people believe. Instead, they excavate the wood to create ‘galleries’ for their nesting site. In fact, if your house plays the role of home to a colony of carpenter ants, you can be pretty sure that the area they are in doesn’t have any termites. Carpenter ants will eat termites eagerly, so they don’t usually co-exist very well at all.
Damage to wooden structures can be caused by carpenter ants, but it isn’t typically extensive damage. The average colony size of carpenter ants is usually no more than 4,000 ants. There different castes of ants in a carpenter ant colony and some are winged or ‘flying ants’, but these only have their wings for a short period of time in order to establish a colony in another place and then lose their wings like other ants. You can employ various flying ant treatments to help rid your home of carpenter ants, but it is suggested to call a professional to do this job effectively and then call another professional to repair the damage that may have been caused by the colony.
Most ants, with the exception of the Argentine ant, do not carry disease as some might think. They do come into contact with a lot of bacteria that can contaminate foodstuffs, but as this is as far is it goes.
Non-Chemical Flying Ant Treatments
For those who have seen the large swarms of flying ants, it is a memory that has been indelibly burned into your mind. Many who have seen such an awesome event tend to have strong emotions about ants of any kind and do not want them anywhere near their home. Most people, even those who haven’t seen flying ants, don’t want them around either. In today’s society, the movement towards ecologically friendly and even “green” alternatives to cleaners, pesticides, and other such items has continually grown. One area that people can actively participate in and still not use harsh chemicals that might pollute the water table or cause other unwanted effects on the environment is the area of insect repellents, namely ant repellents or deterrents.
In this category, we will talk more about prevention techniques that actual elemental physical deterrents, hence the name…General Deterrents. Ants are constantly on the lookout for food and water sources. If you want to keep your home free from ants, then deny them what they are looking for. Keep your house clean of food debris and make sure that is doesn’t provide a source of water for an ant colony.
This might involve simple things, such as wiping up spills right away and making sure counters and sinks are dry after doing dishes or washing hands and so forth. It could also include investigating your plumbing to ensure that there aren’t any leaks that would offer small pools of water for ants to come to for a water source. In essence, general deterrents consist of understanding what ants want and then employing common sense to deny them what they are looking for.
Just as the title says, green deterrents are things that can be used to repel or deter ants while not harming the environment. Flying ant treatments of a green nature can include things like cinnamon spread around entry points to keep ants from crossing. Plain old ground black pepper has been known to keep ants from getting near and vinegar can also be used to treat and deter ants. What you must be sure of when using these methods is that you knew the likely areas that the ants will attempt to gain entry to your home and then be consistent with your application. With powders like talcum, borax, cinnamon, and pepper, you will need to re-apply them about once a week or every other week to keep it fresh. Common sense would dictate that you do this earlier if a rainstorm washes away your green flying ant treatments.
Ants and Scent
Ants tend to communicate with scents. Scientists are still trying to figure out just how they communicate in this fashion. That being said, an ants sense of smell is amazing and you should take steps to confound this sense if you want to keep ants from targeting your home as a potential buffet. Sealing your food into containers that will hold the scent in is the first step. Also keeping your home clean of food debris, like bread crumbs and sugar spills will help. Anything you can do to keep the scent of food from being detected by scout ants will go a long way in keeping them from being unwelcome guests in your home.
Flying Ant 101
Flying ants are really just normal ants during a phase of their lives in which relocation occurs to spread the ant colony abroad. The new queen ant and selected male, worker, and scout ants will all begin to grow wings and then fly to a new location at which to establish their new colony. Once they arrive and start building their new home, their wings will fall off and they will resume normal ground locomotion. This normally isn’t a problem, unless they decide that your home is the ideal location for their new colony. Depending upon the type of ant, the colony could range from a few hundred ants to hundreds of thousands and in extreme situations tens of millions of ants.
It isn’t uncommon for many people to see flying ants and confuse them with termites. The ensuing panic causes many people to call exterminators out to rid their homes of these wood devouring pests. Generally, ants can be dealt with on your own with some common flying ant treatments, and don’t require the services of a professional except in extreme cases. One of the easiest ways to tell if the pest you are looking at is a termite or an ant is to count the sections of their body. Ants will have three sections or segments while termites will only have two. Another identifying characteristic is the antennae. A termite’s antennae will be straight while an ant will have a sharp-angled bend.
Ant colonies are family units but not in the way that humans typically think of ‘family’. Ants act in a communal fashion with each caste or type of ant having a specific duty or task. The worker ant does all of the work of constructing the colony and repairing it when damage occurs. Scout ants are the ants responsible for locating food and water sources and then placing a scent trail for the others to follow to and from the colony.
Foragers gather the food and transport it back to the colony. Soldiers defend the colony and finally the queen is responsible for creating the new life that will keep the colony active. In some species, one ant might perform several functions while in others there is one ant per job. The interesting thing is how they act and interact on a daily basis. The colony functions as a well-oiled mechanism providing for the daily needs of each ant in the colony.
Ants need food and water just like every other creature on the planet. They do prefer certain types of foods over others and as such, you can use this knowledge to aid you in your flying ant treatments to rid your home of the pests or to prevent them from seeing your property as an ideal location. Sugary foods are highly desired by ants as it provides them with ample energy stores. Protein laden foods are also needed in order to provide proper nutrition for the colony. There are more types of foods that attractants, but they all basically fall into one of these two categories.
Homespun Flying Ant Treatments
While most ants aren’t dangerous or very destructive they fully deserve the name of pest. No one likes ants crawling on them or getting into food stores, especially in your own home. For some, they think of ants like they would cockroaches. They represent dirty conditions and contamination. While most ants don’t really spread disease, they can contaminate the food they come into contact with through the spread of bacteria. This might cause someone to get sick but usually, the presence of ants doesn’t cause disease as some people think.
There are ways to rid your home of the presence of ants. Most of the time, people notice ants the most when they are flying ants, during the mating season of late Spring or early Summer. It is possible to employ some DIY flying ant treatments before resorting to spending money on an exterminator.
One of the best ways to rid your home of flying ants is to prevent them from gaining access in the first place. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this. First of all, you must understand that most ants, even flying ants, will not fly their way into your home. The will get in through cracks, nooks, and crannies. By sealing all of these areas that you can find you can help discourage them from gaining access. It will be impossible for you to seal everything up to keep ants out. They will find the cracks you can’t see.
So the next thing to do is to spread deterrents around your home to keep them away. This doesn’t have to be harsh chemicals. One DIY deterrent is cinnamon. If you sprinkle a generous amount of ground cinnamon around common entry points like window sills, the foundation of the home, and doorways, most ants will stay away. Other things like apple cider vinegar mixed 50/50 with water and sprayed using a standard spray bottle will also repel ants. Other remedies include borax, soap, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Find a combination and see which works the best for you.
There are a number of flying ant treatments available in retail stores. These typically include things like repellents and baits. Baits work best when you know you have ants in your home and wish to entice them outside of it and not let them back in. Many times baits include a gel or sticky substance that will attract the ants as if it were a food source and then when the crawl onto it they get stuck and can’t get back out. Repellents fall into the chemical category and should only be used if all other methods fail.
Ants don’t intend you harm personally. However, they are on a constant lookout for food and water. If you keep your food sealed up so that it doesn’t give off a lot of scents and keep crumbs and other foods cleaned from the floor or other areas, you have a great chance of living ant-free.
Three Most Dangerous Flying Ant
Flying ants don’t fly all of the time. Typically, they only sprout wings once per year in order to spread the colony to a new area. After the new colony site has been reached the ants will shed their wings and return to the ground. Generally, ants don’t pose a threat to humans, but because they exist in such large numbers, they can overwhelm much larger animals that they see as a threat to the colony. Ants tend to communicate through scent, called pheromones, which are mostly undetectable by the human olfactory sense. Some ants are more dangerous than others because they sting, bite, or a combination of both. Many people don’t realize that ants belong to the same family as wasps, hence the stingers found on some ant species.
Fire ants are a very small red-colored ant that has become a bit of a problem in the US. Somehow, between 1929 and 1939 fire ants were introduced to the US by accident. Since then they have colonized many parts of the nation. Fire ants are only about ¼ of an inch in length and possess a sting that feels to most people like a hot or burning sensation, which is probably where they got the name “fire” ants. When the fire ant stings someone or something, a pheromone scent is released that signals other fire ants to join in the attack. If you are stung by a fire ant, you need to get away from the area quickly or you may get swarmed by the entire colony. This could be very dangerous.
For people who have allergic reactions to bee or wasp stings, a fire ant sting may also cause an allergic reaction. In severe cases, anaphylactic shock can occur and if not treated quickly can result in death.
Argentine ants are only about .10 inches in length, but they make up in numbers what they lack in size. They are not particularly dangerous due to their stings or bites, but rather because of their ability to carry disease. Combine this with the vast number of supercolonies that have been seen in places like Australia where one supercolony could literally stretch thousands of miles across the continent with the proper conditions, this ant species can spread disease very quickly. Another thing that makes the Argentine ant different from other ant species is that instead of a single queen per colony, these ants have one queen for every 1000 ants in the colony, which makes them especially hard to eliminate with standard flying ant treatments.
Siafu ants are commonly known as Old World Army Ants due to their unique ability to work as a team in a seemingly hyper-organized fashion and to carry out tasks with seemingly military precision. This type of ant can sting, but the true danger lies in their vast numbers. A single colony averages 20 million ants. They typically bite with their large oversized and exceptionally strong mandibles. When a colony is on the hunt in the jungle, they will overcome anything in their way. It is not uncommon for even elephants to run from this type of ant. The US has a different type of Army Ant, typically called the New World Army Ant that doesn’t behave in the same fashion as the Old World type.
Determining What to do about Flying Ants
Most people will typically have a difficult time telling a flying ant from a flying termite. This is probably due to the fact that we don’t normally see flying ants or flying termites. The winged adaptation for these creatures only occurs during breeding and relocation times. In fact, flying ants are rare enough that when they do fly to establish a new colony, it has been labeled Flying Ant Day. The ants sprout wings in order to relocate and spread the colony to a new location. The queen and a select few ants find a prime area that can support a colony need for food and water and then fly to it and start the task of building a nest or colony. Termites have a similar practice but they look a bit different from flying ants.
Flying Ant or Termite
A flying ant and a non-flying ant are the same insects. As stated above they only have wings for a set period of time and then after re-colonizing an area lose their wings. In the time period that they do have wings, it is easy to confuse them with flying termites. The most distinguishing factor to identify a flying from a flying termite is the wings. It is the easiest to see from a distance and can be checked fairly quickly. Both ants and termites have two sets of wings, forward and rearward wings. With flying termites, both the forward and rearward wings are the same length. This is not so with flying ants; their forward wings are longer than their rearward wings. Another way to differentiate between ants and termites is in the number of segments each will have to its body.
Ants will have three segments: The head, thorax, and abdomen. Termites will only have two. So if you see an insect with dual wings, the forward wings longer than the rear wings, that also has three segments to its body, then you can be certain that you are dealing with a flying ant and not a termite.
Do Ants Bite or Sting?
Ants belong to the same order as do hornets and wasps and therefore have the ability to sting repeatedly. However, some ants do not sting; instead, they bite and can have venom that causes a stinging sensation. Some ants, like fire ants, do both biting and stinging. In either case, an ant bite or an ant sting the pain can be very intense and some individuals can even have allergic reactions, which could lead to a serious condition called anaphylactic shock that can be very life-threatening.
How to Treat Infestation
For most people, the best thing to do if you have an ant infestation is to call a professional to help remove the problem and then set up safeguards to ensure that more ants don’t re-infest your home. In some cases, you can clean out the infestation in a DIY flying ant treatments fashion, but you will need the help of some commercial ant killers and repellents to totally clean your home of the flying ants.
Dealing with Flying Ant
There are a number of different types of ants native to the United States, and depending upon your location you may encounter a wide variety of species. Be aware that ants are in the same taxonomic order as wasps and bees so it is very possible that ants can sting you repeatedly. This can be very dangerous for children and those who might have an allergic reaction. Since ants live in colonies that can literally number in the tens of millions, and will viciously attack any intruder with huge numbers, the danger for a single person could be great. If you are unsure of what type of any you are dealing with make sure to call a professional to keep everyone safe.
Ants only have wings during a certain time of year. This time coincides with the breeding cycle of the queen. In the late Spring or early Summer, the ants sprout wings in order to spread their colony to a new location. This is accomplished by specialist ants acting as ‘scouts’ that will hunt out a prime location near food and water sources and then leave a pheromone trail for the queen and other ants to follow.
Pheromone is a type of scent or order that is excreted in order to communicate. Some scientists believe that insects can communicate via their sense of smell and that they can exude slightly different smells and combinations in order to communicate different messages over long distances. Once the queen and the other ‘colonists’ have arrived at the location for the new colony they lose their wings and return to the ground.
Ants From Outside
Some ants have their nests outside and only come into your home to forage for food and water. The best flying ant treatments for this type of invader is to seal up the exterior of your home to keep them out. This includes sealing cracks and crevices all around the base of the home. It will be nearly impossible for you to find every nook and cranny that ants will use to enter your home, so in most cases, it will be necessary to use deterrents and traps to keep the scout ants away from your home or unable to return to the colony to lead others back to your home. There are a variety of different options available in most mega centers that will allow you to deal with this type of ant.
Ants From Inside
Sometimes the ants have already found a new place to establish their colony and it can be inside your home. In situations like this it is extremely important to rid your home of the nest and its inhabitants before a total infestation occurs. One of the best ways to do this is by baiting the ants with a poisonous substance that appeals to their sense of smell. When the ants find the ‘food’ source they carry it back to the nest and spread it around thus killing all the ants in the nest. The only other way to ensure this problem is solved is to call in a professional extermination service.
FAQ’s on Flying Ant
Most people don’t really know all that much about ants, let alone flying ants. Ant infestations can cause a lot of hassle and inconvenience for homeowners. At times, many people confuse flying ants with termites and begin to panic when they see them in or near their homes. This usually conjures up images of partially consumed wood and imagined collapses of large portions of their homes. While termites can indeed cause a great deal of damage to wooden structures and even pose a dangerous situation, rarely are they alone responsible for the collapse of a structure they are infesting. Flying ants can pose a real danger in some cases, in the sense of painful bites and stings, but in most cases, they are more of a pest than anything else.
Do All Ants Have Wings?
Yes and no. While the answer might seem a bit ambiguous it is none-the-less true. Ants do not typically have wings all of the time. Wings are grown during a specific stage of ant life in which breeding and the establishment of a new colony occurs. When the queen ant is nearly ready to lay her eggs, the task of finding a new home or establishing a new colony gets underway.
Scout ants begin the search for a new location preferably near ample sources of water and food and then the queen and a few of the other ants will fly to the new location following a pheromone scent left by the scout ants. Once they reach the location of the new colony the ants return to the ground and their wings fall off. The new colony is established and the process begins again the next year. It is normal to see flying ants in late spring and early summer as this is the best time for them to relocate and establish a new colony.
What is the Taxonomy of Flying Ants?
Flying ants belong to the order Hymenoptera. This is the same order to which bees, wasps, and hornets belong as well. Ants have the body structure in common with these other insects and in some cases, they are able to sting as well as bite. Some ants actually have a sort of venom that can cause extreme pain, while others bite only to hold on while they sting their victim repeatedly. One of the ants that are notorious for possessing a highly painful bite is the bullet ant. The name allegedly comes from the analogy that a bite from this creature feels like being shot with a bullet.
What are the Best Flying Ant Treatments?
The most basic of flying ant treatments is to call a professional extermination service in to rid your house and buildings of the infestation and to lay the groundwork for prevention to keep a return infestation from occurring. This is usually accomplished with the use of harsh toxic chemicals sprayed in strategic locations when ants typically travel and through the location of the colony and its subsequent extermination. There are other flying ant treatments that one can engage in without contracting a professional service and which don’t involve harsh toxic chemicals. Typically, these methods will work as long as a thorough job is performed.
How to Have a Home Free of Flying Ant
It isn’t uncommon for homes to be invaded by ants, especially flying ants. Typically, ants don’t have wings all of the time. They usually develop wings in the springtime in conjunction with their breeding cycle. The queen ant develops wings to transport her eggs to a new location in order to establish a new colony. Typically, this is done strategically to be closer to sources of food and water. Once the location for the new colony has been reached and the ants begin to establish a new colony, the ants’ wings fall off and they are back to using their legs as their primary source of locomotion. There are only a few ways to rid your home of flying ants that don’t involve a professional extermination service and harsh chemicals.
Eliminate the Trail
Ant colonies have a few different types or castes of ants residing in it and each has a specific duty. The scout ant is the type that will go out in search of food sources for the colony. As they search for food they leave a pheromone trail that will allow them to find their way back to the colony as well as allow the other ants to follow them to the food source. These pheromones are typically undetectable by humans, but if you observe a trail of ants heading to your home, you can take action to foil their invasion. Once you see the trail, use hot soapy water with a bit of chlorine bleach in it and scrub the trail leading to your home. This will wash away the pheromone scent trail and cause confusion for the ants and keep them out of your home.
Seal the Point of Entry
Another thing you can do is seal points of entry into your home. Sometimes, this will involve sealing cracks and crevices around sinks, drains, and even outdoor water spigots. If you can seal these entry points from the ants, then they won’t be able to invade your home. Another way to seal your home from ants is to place things across entry points that will inhibit their entry. Sticky items like petroleum jelly, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, boric acid, chili powder, and lye. While it will up to each homeowner to determine which of these ingredients are safe to use around pets and children, they can be effective deterrents for an invading colony of ants.
Deny Food Sources
Since the ants are after food and water, and they use scent to find it, the best way to keep them from your home is to seal the food source, and the scent, to keep them away. Sealing foodstuffs in plastic containers will also help in prolonging their shelf life. The added bonus of keeping a colony of flying ants from being established near your home is substantial. Basic cleanliness is a help as well in this area. Sweeping up crumbs of food and keeping counters and sinks dry will help eliminate sources of food and water that might attract flying ants.
Some of the best flying ant treatments are common sense, and if employed properly can help rid your home of flying ants and keep them from returning.
For most people, it is difficult to tell the difference between flying ants and termites. In either case, you don’t want them in your home or outbuildings. One sure-fire method of identification is to call on the services of a professional exterminator. They will be able to easily determine which variety of insect you are dealing with. However, if you are determined to identify them for yourself, there are a few simple things you can check to help you in the process. Once the proper identification has been made, you can then move on to appropriate flying ant treatments or termite extermination.
One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between flying ants and termites is by looking at their wings. Each insect will have two sets of wings, front wings, and back wings. For termites, the length of the wings will be equal; this is not the case with flying ants. Flying ant wings will be different in length. The front wings will be longer than the back wings. Since this factor is one of the easiest to see from a distance, it is usually the safest and easiest characteristic to aid in the identification process.
Flying ants come in a variety of colors. These colors include red, brown, and black. Termites don’t have color variations; they usually appear as a shiny or glossy black color. Because some flying ants are also black, the color alone should not be used to identify the insect nor implement flying ant treatments or extermination attempts for termites.
On most insects, including flying ants, the body is made up of three parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. Termites are a bit different in that they only have two body segments. Sometimes this distinction is difficult to observe due to the nature of the observation itself. To get close enough to the insects to count body segments can place people in danger of being stung by the flying ants.
Dangers of Flying Ants
Most ants only fly certain times, usually corresponding to mating. They develop wings specifically for this period of time and then after moving to a new location to start a new colony the wings fall off. Ants belong to the order Hymenoptera. This order contains wasps and bees as well as ants. Ants can sting and bite, depending upon the specific species. Some species can do both. In most cases, the ants that sting don’t have a barbed stinger like bees; instead it is smooth thus allowing it to deliver multiple stings without damage to itself.
Termites pose a different kind of danger, not in the form of painful bites or stings, but in damage to wooden structures like homes and barns. While termites ‘eat’ wood, they don’t bite as ants do. They produce an enzyme that breaks down wood fibers thus allowing them to be consumed by the termites.
Flying ants can be a serious problem if not taken care of, if you are unsure of the insects you may have, it is best to enlist the help of an expert.