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What are flying ants?

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flying ant
Flying ants have, naturally, wings - but they don't keep them for long
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Wondering what are flying ants and what are ants with wings?

A flying ant is, of course, an ant that flies. If you aren’t sure that the creature you are looking at is, in fact, an ant, get a good look at his body, if you can.

Termites have a head and body or two body parts. Ants have three body parts. Ants have a tail (abdomen), a head and a chest (thorax). An ant’s legs attach to the thorax right behind the head at the midsection of the ant.

The “waist” of the ant is the very thin area where the abdomen joins the thorax. A termite has a thick waist. A flying ant has a narrow waist. Look at the antennae. Ants have a unique 90 degree bend in their antennae. Sometimes people confuse flying ants for termites. A termite’s antennae are straight. Flying ants will have different size wings whereas termites have the same size.

There are different social classes or castes of ants, including those that are winged and are the flying ants and those who those who don’t have wings and stay on the ground. Wings are grown for a purpose so they can scout out new locations for a colony and so they can reproduce. Wings are necessary so that ants can relocate and spread ant colonies. The ants that do have wings only have them for a short period of time. They reproduce, creating a colony, and then lose their wings.

Ants are social critters. They like to congregate. Colonies are built by the queen ant that has been mated. She is a sexually mature insect. Once the queen mates, she gets rid of her wings by shedding them. She can no longer fly.




When she ditches her wings she no longer has to use the wing muscles for flying so she can maintain nutrients that would have been expended on flying and which can be used by her for other purposes during the initial stages of developing her colony. Wingless, non-sexually mature ants are raised and the colony gets on its feet.

At this time, effort is put into rearing ants that are capable of reproduction. A reproductive ant has wings. One of these ants will be the future queen but the majority of them are male.

Flying ants have two pairs of wings. The males have large eyes, little heads, big thoraces and a pair of claspers, which is the male anatomical structure used in mating, situated at the end of the gaster, which is a part of the abdomen. After the male flying ant mates he doesn’t live much longer. The queen, as noted above, sheds her wings after mating and never flies again. At the point, the only way that the queen can be distinguished from the non-winged female workers is by her larger body size and larger anatomical features.

When it is mating season you may observe a behavior among ants called hill-topping. This is when the ants congregate around a prominent point such as on a roof or in a tree. They are in search of someone to have sex with. This is where swarming, winged ants go for some action.

So, in actuality, a flying ant is just a regular ant that you happen to see at a stage where he is required to fly and, of course, needs wings to do that.

You may be able to get rid of flying ants on your own. If you try and don't succeed, call a professional exterminator.


Resources:

Misconceptions about flying ants

Arizona.edu: ant info

Flying ants 101

Pestmall.com: knowing flying ants


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