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?
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.
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
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?
Ask the Exterminator
29 May 2012, 16:55
Take your ant to your local county extension agent for a free ID. I cannot
ID without a clear photo.
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?
Ask the Exterminator
22 Aug 2012, 16:36
Have you bothered to get the ants properly identified to determine what
species they are. That will tell you a lot about why they are present.
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
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,
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
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
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?
Ask the Exterminator
05 Jun 2013, 15:44
Did you bother to read the other comments where I instruct people to get
their insects properly identified. That's step #1. What kind of ants do you
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!