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Often referred to as alates, flying ants are the fertile male and female ants whose sole purpose is to leave the nest to reproduce and start a new colony.
This happens in the form of swarms where flying ants from multiple colonies conjoin to breed mid-air.
Generally the fertile males and females (alates) are the only forms of ants which have wings.
However, this can vary depending on the species of ant, as there have been cases where the workers have wings as well. Most sightings of flying ants are the alates rather than the workers. For the most part, the majority of the sightings of flying ants are the alates rather than the workers.
During the early stages of their lives, queen ants do have wings, as they are the fertile female flying ants. Once these winged ants have left the nest and successfully mated they will shed their wings and start the new colony, spending the rest of their lives wingless.
Flying ants often get mistaken for flying termites due to their similarities in shape and size. However, identification can be determined by closely examining the insect.
Flying ants have two sets of wings: a front pair and a back pair. A flying ant’s back set of wings are significantly shorter than their front pair and generally have a brown tint to them.
Like most insects, ants have two antennae located at the top of their heads and are elbowed, differing from other insects.
In the insect world, swarms of insects such as flying ants, termites and some species of bees are referred to as nuptial flight, and is the most important phase of the reproductive cycle.
Flying ant swarms is the mating process of ants where the virgin queens and males from different colonies of the same species collide and reproduce in the air.
The swarms of flying ants happens in large numbers to ensure the survival and growth of the species. Many of the ants won't survive past the day falling victim to predators such as birds and other contributing factors.
Flying ants swarm during the summer months. This is believed to be due to the temperature, humidity and wind conditions being just right for them.
Little is known about why flying ants swarm during this time as opposed to spring, like flying termites, or around which signals flying ants use to start their swarm with other colonies.
After they have successfully mated, the male flying ant dies and the queen locates a new place to start her new colony and begins work on building the nest. The location for this depends on the species. Flying carpenter ants will find a piece of timber to inhabit whilst garden ants will build their nest in the ground.
Once a nest has been found the new queen will shed her wings and start a new colony. If successful, the new queen will lay her first batch of eggs, looking after the young until they develop into workers. From then on, her sole purpose is to keep laying eggs for the colony, with the workers taking on the rest of the duties of the colony such as looking after the young, foraging for food and expanding the nest.
However, for some ant species, this isn’t the typical breeding pattern or habit. With army ants, for example, only the males have wings; they fly out and impregnate virgin queens from other colonies inside their nests. Red imported fire ants also follow a different breeding habit due to their multi-queen colonies.
Flying ants can often invade your home through open doors and windows. Depending on the species, they can pose a huge threat to your property.
Carpenter ants, for example, get their name from the damages they cause to wooden structures, as they build their nests inside pieces of timber.
Open doors and windows, as well as cracks in walls and roofs, provide flying carpenter ants with easy access to your home.
To get rid of flying ants in your home, there are a few prevention methods you can adopt during the swarming season.
The most effective solution against flying ants is enlisting the support of a professional pest control company to identify and control an ant problem.
Flying ants mean the start of a new colony. Getting rid of ants will limit the possibility of future ant problems as well as eradicating an existing one.
Worried about flying ants? Contact Rentokil today for expert advice, services and solutions for flying ants.
Pests require different solutions to control and eliminate them, depending on the species, location & size of infestation.