Flying ants are not a particular species of ants like many people assume. Most species of ants have some ants that fly and some that don’t.
Which ants have wings?
Generally, winged ants are the sexually fertile ants. This means the queen ants and the male ants. These ants are called alates. The female winged ants are larger in size than the males.
The sterile female ants, or the worker ants, do not have wings.
Flying ants are most often seen in the early summer months often after a rain. This is when they take to the skies for their nuptial flight. They breed in the air during this flight.
After mating the queen ant builds a nest, tears off her wings and spends the rest of her life in the nest laying eggs. The male ants die quickly after mating.
Termites and Flying Ants
Though ants are more closely related to wasps, they are often confused with termites. There are several ways to tell the difference between termites and flying ants.
Ants have elbowed antenna but termite antenna are straight.
Termite wings are equal in size. Ants have larger wings in the front and smaller on the back of their bodies.
Ants have a slender waist while termites have a broad waist. This makes the ant bodies appear segmented while the termite body is consistent in size.
Termites usually swarm in spring while swarms of winged ants are usually seen in summer.
What to do about swarming ants?
Winged ants are often seen in large swarms in the summer months. Though they may seem scary, they are rarely dangerous. Most nests are formed outside. A few ants flying inside have probably just entered through an open door or window.
Pharaoh ants and carpenter ants do sometimes create nests inside buildings and professional pest control may be needed to eliminate them.