You may assume that ants are usually wingless bugs. But these insects have an air force of their own.
Thier kings and queens gradually grow wings when it’s time to mate and expand their empires.
If you see a flying ant around your home, that is a good sign that you have a growing ant infestation close by.
In this post, I will review what causes flying ants and how to get rid of them.
Let’s dive in.
1. Mating Season
If you see flying ants anywhere, whether they are inside or outside, this is a sign that its mating season.
Ant colonies only sent out flying ants during the mating season. Flying ants are also known as reproductives.
Flying ants have one purpose of reproducing and establishing new ant colonies.
These ants come out in swarms or large groups of flying ants.
The reproductives are released in large swarms to increase their chance of survival.
Most reproductives will die either because of predators, starvation, or dehydration eat them.
While the ants are in the air, they mate and fall to the ground.
On the ground, the ants shed their wings and look for an area to begin building and start a new colony.
2. Infested Home
The primary reason flying ants appear inside the home is that you have an infestation inside your home.
Flying ants are released directly from the nest of an ants colony.
It’s very likely that if you find flying ants inside your home, then you have an ants nest and inside your home.
The most common type of flying ants that are found inside are carpenter ants.
These ants make their nest inside wood by burrowing inside damaged or moist wood.
One key sign of carpenter ants is wood shavings. If you find wood shavings around your home, this is a crucial sign of carpenter ants or termites.
The critical difference between carpenter ants and termites is that you will likely see other signs of carpenter ants such as:
- Live Ants
- Ants Trails or Pathways
These are signs that you will not encounter if you have termites.
3. Coming Inside From Outdoors
Just because you find flying ants inside your house doe not mean you have ants inside your home.
Outdoor swarms can enter your home.
If you have open doors, windows, broken screens, or any other entry points flying ants can enter your home.
If you only spot several flying ants inside your house, these ants are likely getting into through an entry point around your home.
I recommended you first inspect outside your home and look for a larger swarm.
This can be a flying swarm, flying ants on the floor, or piles of discarded wings.
4. Warmth and Light
If you have flying ants near or inside your house, it does not mean that they came from there.
Two things that attract flying ants toward your home are light and heat.
One of the most common heat and light sources around homes is outdoor light, such as porch lights.
At night when these lights are on, they will attract flying ants toward you home.
Flying ants are also attracted to lights from windows. If you are not using curtains, then the light can get attract flying ants through the windows.
There are two things you can do to eliminate the warmth and light that attracts flying ants.
The first is to use blackout curtains to avoid any light from indoors getting outdoors.
The second is to use motion-activated lights rather than leaving your lights on all night.
This will still give you light when necessary but won’t leave your lights on all night to attract flying ants.
One of the most effective ways to keep ants out of your home is by eliminating any food sources.
Ants love to overrun unsealed food.
The less food you have inside your home, the less likely ants will enter your home to being with.
The best way to eliminate food sources is to make sure all the food in your home is correctly sealed in airtight bags or containers.
This will prevent ants from getting inside any of your food.
Another great way to eliminate food sources is to clean your home.
Ants are small, so they do not need much food. They can survive off crumbs located around your house.
To eliminate these uncommon and often invisible food sources, I recommend you clean your home.
Clean your house thoroughly to ensure there are no lurking food sources that ants may be surviving off of.
Ants need a daily source of water to survive.
Fix any leak or drainage issues you may have.
Address any excess moisture in your home to remove potential sources of water.
- Repair any leaky plumbing inside and outside your home
- Make sure your rain gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks are functioning properly. They should keep the water at least five feet minimum from your foundation wall.
- Keep all sprinkler heads pointed away from your home’s foundation
- Keep any dripping water from your air conditioning away from your foundation.
- Make sure your yard is designed to let the water flow away from your home when it rains. If that isn’t the case, contact a yard drainer professional to get your yard graded properly.
- Fix uneven concrete that causes water to pool in one area during rainstorms.
How To Get Rid of flying Ants?
There are several ways you can eliminate flying ants but it will depend on if the flying ants are indoors or outdoors.
1. Bug Zappers
When flying ants are outdoors one of the easiest and effective ways to get rid flying ants.
Bug zappers kill the flying ants by attracting them with light and electrocuting them.
When using bug zappers, make sure to turn off as many lights as possible in your property. That includes light both inside and outside your home.
Minimizing visible light increases the chance the flyingants will be drawn to your trap.
If you see discarded wings pilling up in a specific area, place the bug zapper near them.
Discarded wings are a sign that the ants are frequently flying near and above that area.
One disadvantage of this device is that it will attract more flying ants towards your home.
It’s also deadly to beneficial insects such as moths.
Bug zappers also tend to be messy.
The vaporized ants produce bug mist that can travel up to 6 feet.
When using a bug zapper indoors, keep it low on the floor to reduce the amount of mist and bacteria spread when the termites get zapped.
2. Chemical Soil Treatment
Flying ants swarm to mate and start a new colony.
To prevent flying termites from starting a colony inside your home, I recommend treating your soil with a chemical insecticide.
To do this, drill holes about 2 feet deep into the ground and around 12-15 inches apart.
Cover the entire area of your yard.
Using a pressurized sprayer, inject the liquid insecticide into the ground. Spray each hole for around 5-10 seconds.
You typically want to use around 1 gallon for every 10-15ft.
Any flying ants that land in the soil and try to start a new colony will die due to the chemical barrier.
Termidor is one of the most effective insecticides.
Termidor is safe to use on plants and trees, although you should not treat areas with edible plants with it.
Edible plants should be plants in untreated soil or lifted garden beds.
3. Cover All Light Sources/ Bug Lights
Flying ants are the only type of termite attracted to light.
If there’s a swarm outside your home, cover your windows with thick curtains to prevent attracting termites towards your home.
I also recommend turning off any outdoor light or using bug lights until the swarm is over.
Bug lights or yellow light are less attractive to ants than traditional white light.
It is important to note that lack of light is not going to make termites leave necessarily. If they are swarming outside your home, they will stay whether or not there’s light.
That said, removing or minimizing light will help prevent flying termites from being drawn into your house.
4. Use A Vacuum Cleaner
Another way you can get rid of flying ants is by using a vacuum cleaner.
If ants are flying around your house, you can use a vacuum cleaner to pick them all up.
For this, I recommend using a shop-vac.
Shot vacs allow you to add insecticide solution inside the vacuum to kill the termites once they get sucked in.
If you find the exit point inside your home, vacuum any flying ants that try to fly out.
Flying ants won’t all leave their nest all at once, so be sure to wait for more to appear.
I also recommend injecting the exit hole with termiticide after vacuuming.
This way, you’ll be able to kill any other termites that are living inside the galleries.
5. Orange Oil Spray
Orange oil is one of the most effective natural solutions for these pests.
If the flying ants are coming from an active gallery inside your home, you can inject the orange oil into their exit point.
Once the oil penetrates the wood, it will kill any termites that come in contact with it.
You could do the same thing if you found the exit hole outside your home, as long as it’s on wood.
If the flying termites are coming from inside the soil, orange oil will not be effective.
If there is a swarm inside your home, you can directly spray orange oil on the flying termites.
Just be sure you wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, goggles, and a face mask.
Also, be aware of the direction of the wind when spraying to avoid the solution going back towards you.
6. Foam Treatment
Foam Treatment works similarly to using orange oil.
It involves injecting pesticides into the nests’ exit hole.
These pesticides can come in the form of liquid or foam formulations.
Foam and liquid treatments can travel farther into the wood than dust treatments.
These treatments expand or absorb into the wood, making it easy to fill wall voids where ants are hiding.
These pesticides will kill any ants that come in contact with the solution.
7. Nest/Mound Treatment
Ants make mounds that are typically visible on the surface of the soil.
Since mounds are typically easier to find than other ants many people resort to nest treatments.
Nest treatment involves using insecticide directly on the nest.
Two of the most common ways are using granules or liquid insecticide.
Granules are insecticide packed into organic matter such as sand or pebbles.
These pebbles are poured over the ant nest, followed by water to release the active ingredient inside the granules.
The insecticide will seep into the soil and kill any ants that it comes in contact with it.
You can also use a liquid insecticide for nest treatment.
Its important to mention that nest treatment should not be the only treatment use to kill ants.
While nest treatments can deliver immediate results, there is a chance it wont work for deep or large nests.
A failed nest treatment can cause ants to move to a new nest.
Nest treatments can be used for problematic nest that pose and immediate threat.
But they should not be done alone.
I highly recommend first applying a a bait treatment either broadcast or bait station application.
This will allow you to be sure that even if fants nest does move, there will be baits nearby to target the remaining colony.
Nest treatments can also be used as a supplement to bait treatments but ants should be allowed to forage for 2-3 days with baits before a nest treatment is applied.
8. Treat The Source
Flying ants are a sign of a larger infestation. The best way to get rid of the flying ants is to eliminate the source of ants.
To do this you will need to attack ants where it hurst, the nest.
One of the most effective ways to eliminate ants is to use ant baits.
Ants baits are slow acting which allow for tertiary kills.
This is a great way to tackle ants at the source.
Use Baits Indoors And Outdoors
If you positively identify ants, then the best way to eliminate them is by using ant baits.
Baits are slow-acting and allow ants to take it back to the nest and feed it to the colony.
Spraying insecticide directly on ant trails will only kill the ants on the trails.
The source of the problem remains, and the queen ant will continue producing more ants.
Treating ant mounds can be effective; there are a few things that can limit effectiveness.
Ants can build multiple mounds; if all of the mounds are not treated, the colony will continue growing.
The second thing is the ability to penetrate the soil and reach the ants.
Dry soil or deep nests may not be eliminated by directly treating the mound.
Outdoor Ants Bait
If you have ants in your yard, this can pose a threat to your family, pets, livestock, and visitors.
There are two methods of baiting ants outdoors.
- Localized Bait Stations
- Broadcast Bait Application
The first option is using localized bait stations around the perimeter of your home.
I recommend using refillable bait stations because you can continue refilling them to keep ants out of your yard for as long as possible.
Broadcasting bait involves applying bait granules around the entire perimeter of your home.
The best way to do this is by using a granular spreader.
This will allow you to spread granular evenly across your yard.
These baits have an insecticide embedded inside.
The ants will return the bait to the colony and will begin eating it, spreading the insecticide to the entire colony.
Granular baits are useful if you have many mounds around your home or yard.
This will allow you to spread granular bait across your entire yard to ensure every mound quickly finds the bait.
The second option for outdoor ant bait is using refillable ant baiting stations.
These are typically stations where you can fill a liquid or gel bait that will attract ants.
Place these stations around the perimeter of your home.
I recommend placing one along each corner or side of your home.
Other ideal places to put bait stations are near ant mounts, in your garden near plants, or near other outdoor structures.
Check your bait stations regularly to ensure that there is still bait inside.
If you notice that ants are not consuming the bait, try using a different bait to attract them.
This method is much less invasive than a broadcast bait application.
It is also much easier to monitor and reapply when necessary.
The disadvantage is that ants need to forage to find whereas with broadcast bait application, you place the bait everywhere, making it easier for ants to find the bait.
Indoor Ant Bait
If you have ants indoors, the best way to treat them is by using bait stations or gel baits.
The best option is to use smaller bait stations or gel bait syringes.
I prefer syringes because they are easy to apply to hard to reach locations.
They are also easy to clean up once the ants have started eating the bait.
Gel bait syringes are also a bit easier to track because you can easily see the amount of bait that ants consume.
Place indoor bait anywhere you spotted ant trails during the inspection.
Other ideal locations are:
- Under appliances
- Small cracks and crevices
- Cabinet door hinges
- Windows or door sills
- Along walls or cabinets, guides, and baseboards.
- Near sources of water
- Near ant trails
I recommend applying small dabs onto 2×2 inch pieces of wax paper.
Doing so will make it easy to keep track of the bait and clean up any gel bait you apply.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are Flying Ants?
Flying ants are the reproductives of the ant colony. When the colony is mature and ready to grown flying ants are produced.
The sole purpose of flying ants is to mate and start a new colony. Female flyings ants go on to become the queen of future colonies.
Males, on the other hand, will die shortly after mating.
Its important to note that there are not flying ants throughout the entire lifespan of the colony.
Flying ants are only present during mating seasons. And the ants wings only remain for a short period.
After mating the female ants will shed their wings and will never grow them back.
Where Do Flying Ants Come From?
Flying ants come directly from the nest of the ant colony.
This ant caste has no other function inside the colony other than reproduction.
Flying ants are only released from the ants colony when two conditions:
- Colony Must be ready to reproduce
- Flying ant must be mature.
Can Flying Ants Do Damage?
A colony of flying ants can damage your belongings indoors. However, while carpenter ants may chew through wood, They’re unlikely to bite humans.
However, harvester ants have the most intense bite.
Sting symptoms are not specific but may spread across the lymph system, and some people may get anaphylactic shock. Harvester ants are venomous.
Cornfield ants, on the other hand, inflict further damage owing to their search for dens in cornfields.
Flying Ants vs Flying Termites
- Flying termites have straight antennae while flying ants have bent antennae
- Flying termites have two pairs of translucent wings, while ants have two brownish pairs of wings.
- Both the front and back pairs of termite wings are equal in length and twice as long as their bodies. Ants on the other hand have unequal wings that are more proportionate to their bodies.
- Flying ants have pinched bodies, while termites have relatively straight bodies.
Trying to identify an ant or termite mid-flight is nearly impossible.
To accurately identify whether it is a flying termite or ant, you need to catch it.
Since it is highly unlikely that termites or ants will bite you, catching one should be pretty easy.
You can capture them during a swarm with a small jar or with your hand.
You can also check the floor. There’s always a few stragglers crawling around during a swarm.
Once captured, you’ll be able to identify them better.
How Long Do They Live?
The lifespan between male and female flying ants differs drastically.
First, female ants go on to become the queen of new ant colonies. This means that they can live for as long as 10 years.
Male flying ants, on the other hand, have a very short lifespan. Male flying ants die shortly after mating with the queen.
This can range from several days to several weeks depending on the species.