So exactly what are ants with wings? Surprisingly, winged ants are pretty common at certain times of the year and just about every species of ant will have some members of its colony develop wings.
The purpose of wings on an ant accomplishes one specific thing.....to swarm and breed.
Only reproductive ants have wings and these reproductive ants only develop wings during the breeding season.
Typically it's the male drones you'll see who develop wings to leave the nest in large numbers to breed and extend the colony. Since a majority of these ants will be eaten by birds or simply die from lack of food and water, large swarms leave the nest at the same time to increase the chances of survival.
Now that we've addressed the question "What are ants with wings?" the next step is to determine when you can expect to see them flying around.
Depending on the species, you can expect to see winged ants in the spring and fall. Temperature and rainfall are common factors that trigger ants to swarm and mate.
In fact, ants of a common species (carpenter ants for example) that are from different colonies will often swarm at the same time due to a triggering effect......such as temperature or rainfall.
After mating with the queen, male ants will only live for a couple of months, then die. A majority of flying ants will not pose any serious health concerns or inflict any damage to you or your home.
However, carpenter ants and termites (which are commonly mistaken for ants) will cause a lot of damage to your home, barn or other wooden structures.
Many people confuse termites with carpenter ants......and for the sake of argument, may think that any ant that has a wing is a termite.
Termites have a really bad reputation, and rightfully so because they can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home since they love to feed on fresh wood.
However, carpenter ants can also create havoc inside a home as they tunnel through your homes structure, using these tunnels to nest in.
If you see a couple of winged carpenter ants in the summer time, chances are it's not a big deal. If you start noticing a lot in the wintertime though.....you may have infestation on your hands.
Here are some key factors to look for when identifying termites vs. carpenter ants:
The infographic above shows a good example of the life cycle of a termite. Notice how they are very similar to ants where only some will grow wings and reproduce, while others remain workers or soldiers.
If you see a flying ant or two inside your home, chances are they just accidentally wandered inside through an open door as they were passing through.
In fact, for a couple of days in a row this summer, I noticed a handful of flying ants around my back deck. These ants were just passing through and did not pose a serious risk to my home. Then, after a few days they were completely gone.
However, a lot of flying ants inside your home should be alarming and it could indicate they are nesting inside the structure of your house.
Common Household Ants
Many of us deal with black ants or sugar ants inside our home. They seem to appear out of nowhere and before you know it, you have a serious ant issue.
If you notice a trail of ants inside your house, the most effective way to remove them is through bait stations. Simply spraying the trail of ants with an insecticide won't stop the infestation. Sure, you'll kill the ants you see marching across your floor, but it won't do anything to kill the queen or the rest of the colony.
It's the ants you don't see that you want to pay attention to. Instead of killing the ants on the floor, allow these ants to carry the poison bait back to the rest of the colony. In a few days your ant problem will be a thing of the past.
I like Raid Max double control ant baits because it contains two separate types of bait to attract a variety of different ant species. I've used them multiple times and have always had great results.
Hopefully by now we've helped put an end to the common question "What are ants with wings?"
Ants are very unique insects and a vast majority may annoy you as they march across the floor, but they don't pose a severe risk to you or your home.
If you're dealing with common black ants or sugar ants, just put out a few bait stations in areas where you've noticed the ants and within a few days they will be gone.
However, if you've identified the ants as carpenter ants or termites it's always best to call a licensed exterminator because the negative effects caused by either of these insects will be devastating. By acting quickly, you'll be able to save money and the longevity of your home.