Why Do Some Ants Fly?

October 23, 2018 | Last Updated: April 2, 2022

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What Are Ants with Wings?

Also known as swarmers or reproductives, ants with wings emerge from established colonies to mate and reproduce. Most ant species found in Canada form new colonies by producing winged ants and swarming during the warmer weather of spring and early summer.

Winged ants include swarmers of both genders. Males are produced solely to fulfill reproductive functions and die shortly after mating, while newly mated females search for suitable nesting sites to lay eggs and become queens of the new colonies. In an event known as a nuptial flight, ants with wings mate while swarming and flying through the air. After mating, the newly minted queen finds a prime location to create a nest, detach her wings, and lay her eggs. Winged males, on the other hand, typically die within two weeks of mating.

Upon establishing a nesting site and laying eggs, the formerly winged queen raises the first generation of offspring alone. Once the newly hatched offspring reach adulthood, they become worker ants and take charge of searching for food and expanding the nest while the queen retains sole responsibility for laying eggs. Ant colonies generally take between three and six years to mature and produce winged swarmers capable of reproducing. The sight of ants with wings therefore likely indicates the nearby presence of a mature, and probably large, colony.

Additionally, since reproductive swarmers typically emerge from the colony between April and June, the presence of winged ants in the home during winter months usually signals the existence of an indoor infestation.

Have more questions about ants? Contact us today for more information.

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