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?
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
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:
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
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!
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
Ask the Exterminator
26 Feb 2014, 07:28
I cannot predict if and when you will see flying ants.
04 Apr 2014, 03:27
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.
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, 16:09
Thanks for the info. Some people are very rude, (JOHN), and i do apologize
on his behalf. Talk about snarky. You sir, are an idiot.
Ask the Exterminator
17 Jun 2014, 17:42
Thanks for coming to my defense. John and I worked out his problem back in
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
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.