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Flying Ant


Summary: It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a….flying ant? Yes, some ants have wings, but the flying ant only comes out once a year; kind of like Santa Clause but with antennae. Find out more about why flying ants fly.

Swarming ants got you thinking about termites? Don't let a hyperactive pest control salesperson sell you a termite treatment until you have read this article.

All ant species produce winged ants. The winged variety of ants are almost always the reproductive males and females of the ant colonies. They are most often seen a day or so after a hard summertime rain, swarming out of the ground to form massive clouds consisting of millions of individuals.


The timing of ant swarms appears to be coordinated with neighboring ant colonies, because the swarming behavior occurs at the same time. Actually, the ants are just responding to seasonal cues like temperature, humidity and wind speed, but the coordinated swarms helps create safety in numbers which reduces their chances of being eaten by a predator. The swarming of multiple ant colonies also promotes interbreeding which increases genetic diversity and adaptability.

An ant colony needs several years to grow from when it is started to the point reproductive ants with wings are developed. The colony needs to produce several thousand worker ants before beginning to breed sexually mature ants with wings. A colony is founded by a single reproductive female, known as the queen. When the winged female leaves her colony to begin a new colony, her journey is known as the “nuptial flight”. The colony pushes out the winged ants to swarm and the males gather around the female who is producing powerful sex pheromones.

The flying ant often displays a behavior known as “hilltopping”. They swarm around the tallest object of the landscape like a tree or chimney. The females are much larger than the males, and they will try to dip and dodge the males, only allowing the fastest and fittest males to deposit their sperm. A queen will mate with several males, but males only mate with one female, if they are lucky.

Regardless of whether they are successful, the male's wings drop off after the mating period and the males drop to the ground and die. The female also loses its wings, but she will drop to the ground and begin to build a new


colony. This is the same thing termites do, too.

Flying ants, like termites, may also swarm indoors. This usually happens when the ant colony already exists somewhere within the structure. Carpenter ants and pharaoh ants are two species that sometimes make their homes indoors. Field ants will sometimes build colonies outdoors but close to buildings, so they can appear on window sills or other areas near cracks leading from the outside.

Flying ants are not dangerous to humans, even if they do show up indoors and freak you out. Flying ants only appear for a day and then disperse widely to start new colonies. However, ant swarms should not be ignored, because it is a signal that something is or may be amiss. Collect samples of the ants and show them to a reliable professional pest control company for proper identification. Why pay for an expensive termite treatment when all you need is a simple ant treatment?

Ask Rick A Question


maryanne kerrigan
28 Apr 2014, 23:16
i have had flying ants for 2 weeks they seem to be coming in at night and attracted to the light...well i closed all windows before dark, and i have only seen a couple my neighbors said they come thru the screens...i had killed about 75 of them now i may see only one a night thank goodness
17 Jun 2014, 19:51
I have noticed dozens of small ants with wings only on one window sill in my home. I spray and their not there for a few hrs but return later that same day. This is all new and I have never noticed anything like this in the past 30 years.
Are they flying ants? Will they subside eventually?
Ask the Exterminator
18 Jun 2014, 10:00
You need to get the insect properly identified. Ants are treated differently than termites. They won't go away by spraying them. The colony, whether it be ants or termites, is in the ground.
18 Jun 2014, 13:19
Hello, I bought my house a year ago and had no flying ant problem. I recently got central air installed and finally used it for the first time. The next morning there was flying ants everywhere. I found a colony in my basement behind my dryer and sprayed them with Flying insect spray which killed them. This morning I am still finding them. Some dead, some still moving. I opened my attic door and there was tons. Not as much as the colony in the basement but than again I got freaked out and didn't make it all the way up in the attic. My question is....should I call an exterminator over flying ants? Or jus keep spraying with my flying insect spray? Does my central air have something to do with finding them on all floors of my house (basement,living,bedrooms, and attic) and why all of usuden?
Ask the Exterminator
18 Jun 2014, 13:37
Spraying the ants as they emerge from a crack will only kill those specific ants. The spray will have no effect on the colony living under the slab. For control you need to know the ant species and purchase an ant bait that lists that ant on the label. The swarming ants will not be interested in the bait. They are only wanted to mate and return to the soil to start new colonies. You need to put the bait where you find "worker" ants.
09 Jul 2014, 18:24
In my home I have this type of insect. I live in Florida and its been raining heavily for a while. All these fly like things came into our home. They're attracted to light. I thought they were winged ants but these come in incredibly large numbers. A great number hang stay at the rim of the lamp in our living room they seriously terrify me. I ask my mom who is an expert on stuff like this cause she was born and raised in India. She says its something called a rain fly(not the tarp). They're supposed to be attracted by light and die in 24 hours. I don't know. Pls tell me if you know 'bout these pests Mr. Exterminator.
02 Oct 2014, 00:43
Hello, at our home we are in the process of cutting down a couple giant pine trees throughout our yard, i was outside playing with my kids when i noticed in the yard in the grass a giant swarm of bugs, i however didnt get close enough to observe them, but they looked like anta with wings but i am not positive. My question is which could it more likely be in the grass, termites or flying ants? I flooded it out with water and went on a stomping spree..
Ask the Exterminator
02 Oct 2014, 11:14
Termites or carpenter ants commonly infest dead or dying trees. Both of these species have colony members with wings.
02 Oct 2014, 23:34
Do you think this something i should be concerned about getting into my home? I havent seen any since that day, i am wondering if it was from the pine trees being cut possibly disturbed a nest. I apologize for such stupid questions. But thank you greatly for answering them. God bless
Ask the Exterminator
03 Oct 2014, 07:26

This is a "comment" box. If you wish to have a dialogue, please use the "Ask Rick a Question" boxes found on this page.

Yes, it could be an issue if the trees are fairly close to the house.
30 May 2015, 08:20
We live in a apartment. In the morning flying ants drop out from underneath my bathroom cabinet. They had Orkin come out and spray three times and they told me that they would swarm only for a couple of days. I have seen them every day for a week and a half. We live in the garden level so I'm sure that they are down next to the plumbing area. But I don't know what to do to get rid of them.
Ask the Exterminator
01 Jun 2015, 09:07
Spraying for an ant invasion stops the symptoms, but does not cure the problem. The flying ants are reproductive members of the colony. They are not the ants that infest your home. They emerge from the ground, mate and attempt to go back into the ground to start new colonies. The spraying has no effect on the existing colony. If you start to see trails of ants, that is when your pest control company should apply gel bait. The ants feed on the bait and take it back to the colony where the bait kills the entire colony.
Rose Funkhouser
22 Jun 2015, 10:25
Every morning for the past 3 days the surface of my pool is loaded with flying ants. How long will this continue as they are really gross.
22 Jun 2015, 13:36
i have been getting winged ants everyday, mostly dead. I started with just a few but now when I wake up in the morning they are all over as if someone sprinkled pepper all over the floors but especially the kitchen.
What in the world is going on and what shall I do???
Thank you,
Ask the Exterminator
25 Jun 2015, 10:22
You need to know the ant species. Pavement ants? Odorous house ants? Carpenter ants? Collect a few in a jar and get them properly identified. Once you know the species you will be able to purchase the proper ant bait to control them.
Ask the Exterminator
25 Jun 2015, 11:40
Ants swarm during spring and early summer. After that the swarms should stop. However, you can turn your pool lights off at night and you might get some relief.
20 Jul 2015, 09:31
Why bother asking you anything if all you're going to answer with is "identify the species and consult a pro"? The reason people ask you (as the pro) is for advise on what to buy to kill the ants. Most of the description is "flying ants". Now while there are varied species, I am sure, most, like me, have already researched what they have and confirmed they are flying ants not termites. So... given that info, why can't you just advise a product we are looking to purchase and take care of this situation our selves without calling an "expert" who will tell us it's something else and upcharge us, while treating a less expensive problem? That's why we all come to forums like this anyway. Why are YOU here if you don't give the stright forward answers then?
Ask the Exterminator
20 Jul 2015, 10:00
You MUST know the species before you can move ahead. Why bother giving advice if you're not going to follow it? If I give you a product and your particular ant is not listed on the label, it won't work. Then, you'll be back on my website complaining that my recommendations "stink". I'm not telling you to hire a pro, but I am giving professional advice. All ant species have colony members with wings. Is your ant a pavement ant, an odorous house ant, a carpenter ant, a crazy ant, etc.? Some of the work is your responsibility. I'm here to provide a professional response, but if you're in the "buy anything" mode, I recommend you buy Maxforce Complete Granular, Optigard, Maxforce Quantum Ant Gel, Advance 375a Selected Ant Bait and throw in Advion Ant Bait for good measure.
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