Spotting flying ants in your home is a bad sign; having them in your home during winter is worse. This is because the only time you will see ants with wings is when they are looking to breed. If you spot a flying ant in the summer, it could be an outdoor species that accidentally got in through an open window or door.
But when this happens in winter, and particularly colder areas of the country, it might be a sign that ants are living within your home. This is because at that time ants are not living and breeding outdoors. Worst case scenario, you have carpenter ants living within your structure.
What is the difference between winged carpenter ants and termites?
Knowing whether you have flying ants or winged termites is important in determining how you will treat an infestation. Some flying winged ants look similar to winged swarming termites. The following are a few ways to identify their differences:
- Both species have four wings. However, termites have uniform sized wings. Winged ants, on the other hand, have larger fore wings than the pair attached on the back.
- Termites’ antennae are almost straight while the carpenter ant antennae are elbowed.
- Compared to the ant, termite wings are twice as long as their bodies, while ant wings are more proportionate to their bodies.
- Ants tend to appear distinctively segmented due to their thin waist. Termites, on the other hand, have a broad waist and are mostly have a uniform width along their entire body.
What does nuptial flight mean?
You might not know this, but carpenter ants mate during flight. This is known as nuptial flight. Carpenter ants aren’t the only one’s insects that breed this way. Termites, ants, and some bees also breed like this. Flying carpenter ants are a part of a reproductive generation of carpenter ants. The “Flying Ant Day” is the informal term for this process. However, it is not limited to a single day.
When the weather is right, and it isn’t raining, many colonies will participate in this phenomenon simultaneously. This tactic is used to limit predator interference encouraging cross breeding from different colonies at the same time.
The reason this happens almost simultaneously is a combination of wind speed, humidity, and temperature of the year. During this time of the year, virgin queen ants will fly over long distances, while others just a couple of feet. They will be coupled by smaller male ants.’
During this time, the queens try to outfly the males at first in an attempt to pick out the fittest males. Mating happens during flight, and the queens will mate with several males. Their sperm will be stored in the abdomen and will last for the rest of her life. This can be as long as 20 years and have the capability of fertilizing millions of eggs.
Are winged ants dangerous?
Spotting a huge swarm of winged ants can be intimidating, and that’s the whole point. However, during this time, the ants have only one thing on their mind, mating. Flying ants are not any dangerous than the one you spot on the ground.
Here’s how it works, if a species of ant does not sting or bite, the winged counterpart of their species will not bite either. However, in case the species of the ant bites, like a carpenter ant, then the winged carpenter ants will also bite. The same applies with species of ants that sting, like the fire ant, their winged fire ants will do the same.
Its very uncommon for winged ants to sting or bite while they fly, as long as you do not run headlong into a swarm of mating ants, you should be okay. Just be careful if they are crawling, like you would do with any other ant.
Where do winged ants go after mating?
Immediately after mating, the males will die, since their purpose has been fulfilled. The fertilized female, on the other hand, flies around looking for a nesting site that she feels are up to her standards. Depending on the species, they will have their preferences to a nesting site. Some will end up in sidewalk cracks while others will choose rotting wood.
Flying ants are never a good sign for a property owner since they might invade your space in the process. In case you spot a winged ant in your home, contact a carpenter ant control Toronto expert immediately. Once the winged queen finds a suitable spot; she will break off her wings. She will immediately begin working on her colony.