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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 termite, 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


09 May 2012, 21:46
Okay, I am extremely grossed out by the ants in our house!
Me and my husband and daughter live in PA, and it's summertilme. We recently saw a bunch of ants on our office table and they are now making their way to our kitchen, what should we do?
We studied the ants, and they appear to be flying ants, based on pictures of termites and carpenter ants. My husband brought home a box from his work, and we didn't notice the ants stuck to the tape until today. It's disgusting. We ant sure what to do, if flying ants are poisonous or not, if they can harm us. W had an ant problem before, but they were all regular and went away after a while. We don't have much time with our busy schedules for an exterminator to come in, and our local one was already booked. So what should we do?
Ask the Exterminator
11 May 2012, 08:57
You must determine what species of flying ant you have. Different ant species develop from varying locations. Collect some of the ants and get them identified by your local county extension agent. Then you'll know where to look for the ant colony.
Lauren B.
14 May 2012, 13:48
Well for the past few days i have had flying ants appearing around my back door, started as just one or two and then go back today and there was 12. I have sprayed the area many times with diffrent products and they always come back wheither or not the product says it will last for a few weeks, months, etc. they look exactly like what you have in the picture of it resting on your finger.
Ask the Exterminator
14 May 2012, 13:57
I just answered a similar question just before yours. ID is essential. You must know the ant species to determine where it is coming from and what to use to control them.
20 May 2012, 21:07
I have flying ants in my room, they seem to nest near the window. The room was once a garage. How do I get rid of them?
21 May 2012, 08:33
I have flying ants, they are mostly in my bathroom area. The only wierd things is I dont see them fly, I would kill one and by the time I look up another is there.. I dont see where they are coming from.. I have carpet through out my home a i even saw an ant crawling on the carpet.. its making me itch..

Are they some how invisible?
29 May 2012, 11:27
Ok, last night there was a red ant flying in our house. We put it in a jar and I can't figure out if it is a queen or a male. The antennae seem to be curved not strait, or jointed. It is very hyper in my jar. The back part is long, and we have a big black conoly outside by our garage. Also I can't find out what the type of ants they are. Can you please tell me what gender it is and what the conoly type is by my garage?
22 Jun 2012, 02:56
do carpenter ants fly?
Ask the Exterminator
22 Jun 2012, 11:34
All ant species, including carpenter ants, have winged reproductive colony members that fly.
20 Aug 2012, 16:58
Every year for the past 4 year my whole front lawn is crawling, there is not one spot that is not covered with flying ants. This happens about the same time every year (yesterday), within about 3 hours there is not an ant in site. I have read all about this, my question is: Need I be concerned? Is this bad for my lawn? Are they building colonies all over my yard? Why my yard and not my neighbors?
L Elliott
17 Sep 2012, 18:16
Hi - I've got winged ants only in the bathroom window & laundry window. I discomered an ant colony in my front garden, which, when I dug it up, was red ants but large black winged ones were also present. I sprayed raid on the garden area and that nest is now gone but they still appear on bathroom window when the hot sun shines there. I put up a towel over the bathroom window (outside as we're in a ranch house) and they dont come when I do that. They also dont appear on any other windows that get sunlight.. how come? Thanks.
19 Oct 2012, 21:11

Some of these comments had me laughing so hard, there were tears in my eyes. OMG, I can't believe how dense some (a LOT?!?) of people are!! LOL, ROFLMAO!!!! 
Thank you for all of this great information. I came here because I have some flying ants swarming in my garage right now, and I thought it was odd being that it's mid October. I would like to find out what type they are without having to take them to my local county extension office, so I will explore your site some more, and maybe I'll find the answer. Thanks again :)

PS- a couple of my favorites:
"my ants have been indentified as flying ants"
and the randomness of:
"My husband brought home a box from his work, and we didn't notice the ants stuck to the tape until today" (didn't relate to anything else she was saying)
And 2 sentences later, 
"We ant sure what to do"
Classic!! I'm still trying to figure out if that was an intentional pun or not - I don't think it was. 
13 Mar 2013, 04:53
Hello, I have been having a problem with ants, flying ants or termites for a couple of years now. Last year when we got home from church there were millions of flying ants or termites laying from end of my kitchen to the other. We were not home so no doors where opened or windows. I just about had a breakdown. I did notice a year before that wings laying in my bathroom sink and in my bathtub and also found wings under the windowsills in my bedroom. I have these little black ants in my bathroom and they are so bad they crawl up my walls, my bathtub, and even in my living room floor. We have had terminex to come in and do a free estimate which they said was subterrean termites. I was also told that it was possible that I could have an infestation of both termites and carpenter ants inside of my home. We treated around our home with a termite bait system, removed a dead tree stump out of our yard, tore up my landscaping timber around the house, we even tore out our bathroom floor and walls and replaced the wood but they are back at full force again. My question is, is if an infestation is to severe is there any help. We have done all that we know to do. We are fed up and thinking about tearing our house down and putting in a double wide on the same property, Do we need to spray our yard before putting in our double wide? I am scared of this happening again.
13 Apr 2013, 15:45
Which seems to come out of the darkness of a kitchen cupboard, containing only the wooden shelves, and the small winged creatures fly out, seemingly attracted by the light?
01 May 2013, 20:42
I looked on line and it appears that I have carpenter ants. they are on the ceiling over my water heater. Sometimes on a hot day they come out of a crack on that wall swarming. I have seen them about 3 times. what should I? Should I call an ant expert? Would they be able to fix my wall also? I have four children, one with autism and a baby 7 months old. I'm tired of seen them come out swarming all over my floor. Please help!
19 May 2013, 23:43
Please help: I it just started two days ago I have fly ants coming from my vents and they seem to only come out at night
Sergio Rios
31 May 2013, 22:10
Please help me there are red flying ants in my room every time we kill one another one comes
The ants are red with clear wings
Please tell me what to do
Are They poisoneos?
18 Jun 2013, 11:46
I have field ants nesting at the base of my back door is there an of the counter spray or something I can do to get rid of them???
Ask the Exterminator
18 Jun 2013, 13:41
Go to this link for the product I recommend: ait.html
18 Jun 2013, 15:51
I have been noticing a flying ant for 2 days now and every time I kill them they seem to come back. I noticed them in the living room flying around my tall shelf lamp and in the kitchen by the dish strainer. I do believe they are moisture ants but why do they come out at night?
I just recently had my son's birthday party and that night I noticed them.
28 Jun 2013, 21:54
In the past week I've noticed very large flying ants in my kitchen. I am a very clean person so that is not the problem. I have also found two small flying black ants in a separate room. Should I be concerned? The large ones almost look like wasps they are that large! Ewh....
27 Aug 2013, 18:31
Hi I have seen a few winged ant nests here and there but today I took my puppy out for his walk and they are everywhere in my backyard! I took photos and a video. They are swarming like crazy. Are they dangerous to me or my pet? Some are small and red and the rest winged.
09 Nov 2013, 16:32
We found small winged ants on our back yard tree. They swarm down to our compost bin and seem to be going up the tree. They are obviousely outside. All I'm wondering is if they're dangerous or not. We just put some ant killer out so I think it will be find but just making sure...We also have a small, curious terrier mix and I don't want that little dog to get hurt. She will eat anything she can get her little paws on. I don't know where to get our ant 'properly identified' as you said before and also don't know how to upload pictures. But are they dangerous? Thanks!
Sumiko Woodside
25 Feb 2014, 21:29
I actually asked a question at the top of this page can u please let me know right away if you can tell me if and when the flying ants are coming to Beaumont Texas and what can I do to get ready for them that I won't have to spend a lot of money last year I turned on the light and they were in my house I was trying to get rid of them all night couldn't sleep and I have 3 kids please tell me all of what I can do to get ready last year it was in March I want to be ready this year.thank you one very x
Concerned mom.
Ask the Exterminator
26 Feb 2014, 07:28
I cannot predict if and when you will see flying ants.
04 Apr 2014, 03:27
Mr. Exterminator,
I have read all of your post, and the reason myself and many of the posters on this site are asking questions is merely because we want to know what the most likely type of insect we have. There is no reason for snarky comments to the rest implying laziness of failing to properly identify the species. I mean look at me, it's two in the AM, I work nights and it is difficult to find folks who could answer this question to fit my schedule. With that said I appreciate your site and that you are providing free advise. Personally I am more worried of an infestation in my home. However, they only gather outside near the front porch light. Most have died which I guess they have fulfilled natural urge. With that said is there need to treat near the home or outside where there remains are? Again I appreciate any help. Just wanted you to know I did read all of the post.
J. Lee
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