Many ant species exist and you may have them around your home making mounds in the lawn or dirt piles on your driveway. As part of their seasonal activity, ants will produce a swarm of winged flying ants, known as swarmer ants. Swarming is also known as reproductive flight, as the ants are out to start new colonies. It is important to be able to tell a swarmer ant from a termite, as the latter could represent a problem.
Release of New Queens
Swarmer ants are sexually developed females and males that separate from established colonies to start new colonies. Ideally they will mate with ants from another swarm to strengthen their genetics. Mating often occurs in flight; then the female pulls her own wings off and finds a place to form a brood chamber, where she will lay eggs. Most will not succeed in successfully establishing a new colony, instead getting eaten by predators or dying of starvation.
Timing the Swarm
Swarming is seasonal, often taking place in the spring, and can occur once to a few times a year. It typically lasts for one day and happens simultaneously for all colonies in an area, which increases the chance of a queen finding a mate from a different colony. Most ant species release swarmers in the late afternoon, typically after a shower of rain followed by sun. Pavement ants and carpenter ants often release as the sun is setting.
Recognizing Swarmer Ants
You can determine if is a winged insect is a swarmer ant or a termite in a few different ways, though they are similar in size. Ants have a pinched-in waistline, antennae with a bend in the middle and two long and two short wings. Termites have fairly straight sides, antennae that are flexible along their entire length and appear either straight or slightly curved, and wings that are fairly equal in length. Swarmer ants are usually larger than the worker ants from their colony.
Ant Swarms Indoors
If you find flying ants inside your home it is most likely that an ant nest is nearby. If you have previously seen ants in the house, you could have an infestation, but otherwise they have probably found their way in through a door or window. You don't need to have the house insect-treated, as the swarm should only last for a day, and insect spray and a vacuum cleaner will get rid of the ants.
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