Seeing a flying insect in your home isn’t good, and you want to know what it is. Typically, what you’re seeing is a flying ant, but it could also be a flying termite. We’re going to help you learn the difference between them and how to identify flying ants. Then, you’re going to find out about different ant treatments so that you can get rid of them easily.
Typically, ants can only fly (and only have wings) when they’re close to breeding. Therefore, you usually see them in summer. This flying ant might be part of an outdoor species and might just get into the house through a crack or gap.
However, in winter, it’s too cold outside for the ants to breed outside. If you see flying ants in your house in winter, you’ve got a nest of ants inside, and they’re getting ready to be worse.
Ants vs. Termites
Carpenter ants are highly common in the US, and they’re regularly confused with termites. Sometimes, the carpenter ants can be bigger than a termite. They’re actually the biggest of the ant species out there. Still, they can be on the small size, so that’s not a clear determination of the ant species you have.
How do you know if you’re seeing a carpenter ant or a termite? Here’s what to watch for:
- Dark body color
- Elbowed antennae
- Narrow waist
- Hind wings that are shorter than the front ones
If what you see is like that, you’ve got a carpenter ant.
Another good indication that it’s a carpenter ant and not a termite is if you see it in the open. Termites prefer to stay in dark and moist areas, so they don’t often come out of the walls. However, carpenter ants just nest in your home. They don’t eat it like termites. Therefore, you might notice wood dust and soil beneath the nest opening, but you aren’t going to find any excrement piles as you do with termites.
Identification of Flying Ants
A flying ant has a pinched waist, and the wings aren’t the same length. On top of that, the antennae are bent. However, on the other hand, termites have straight waists, equal wing lengths on each side, and straight antennae.
Typically, flying ants have a red, brown, or black body. The wings have a brown tint to them, and the top two are longer than the bottom two.
You’re also going to find that ants and termites tend to live in larger colonies with a caste system. Termites are often found in stumps and trees that have decayed, as well as lumber, wood debris, and wood structures. Carpenter ants also live in wood and wooden structure parts. However, carpenter ants don’t eat the wood they live in, so they don’t cause as much structural damage.
Ants are omnivores, so they primarily eat other insects, seeds, nectar, and food debris from inside the house. Termites really only eat cellulose, including wood and paper.
In general, ants go through four developmental stages (egg, larvae, pupa, and then adult). Worker ants tend to live just a few months, but the queen can live for many years. The termite’s life cycle only has three developmental stages (egg, larvae (nymph), and adult). They can live for a few years, but the queen lives for decades.
Both pests have a similar reproductive cycle. During the warm months, flying ants and termites fly from the nests to mate so that they can establish a new colony. In the ant species, male partners often die once they mate with the females.
When termites mate, both partners live to expand the colony. Also, flying ants and termites both shed their wings once they’ve mated.
What to Do If You See A Flying Ant
Just because you see a flying ant doesn’t mean you have an infestation. A winged ant seen inside during the summer can mean it just flew in from outside. It’s probably going to die before it found a nesting site, and you’re not likely to require pest control.
The only exception to flying ants in the house is if you see it in winter when they can’t breed outside.
Getting Rid Of Flying Ants
Carpenter ants can nest in wood that’s dry, but they prefer damp, rotting, or wet wood. The first thing you should do is replace or repair the rotted pieces to prevent an infestation and remove their home.
Once you’ve fixed the problem so that flying ants don’t return, you should kill any carpenter ants that are in the indoor nest. To do that, you can use:
- Dust – You can find insecticidal dust designed for carpenter ants that can be used indoors. You inject it into the areas where ants nest. It could be hard to get to the space, so you might need to drill small holes to inject the dust.
- Bait – It’s also possible to use bait. Though it works slower, it can be safer and easier to use than dust and spray. The foraging ants end up picking up the bait, so it goes back to the colony. Everyone eats it, including the queen, so it eliminates the full colony. Make sure that you read the bait label because many of them are used for different species. You want one that’s designed for carpenter ants.
- Spray – If you see ants crawling around, you can use an insecticide spray. However, it just kills the ants you find; it doesn’t kill the entire nest (unless you’re lucky enough to find it and spray it directly). Still, if the ant just comes in from outside, sprays work well on such occasional invaders.
Flying ants aren’t likely to be a problem except for summer and winter. They only develop wings when they mate. However, if you do see a winged ant, it’s essential to inspect your house to see if you have an ant infestation.
We talked about the differences between termites and ants so that you know what you’re dealing with. You also learned how to identify flying ants and what treatments are available. Armed with such information, you can eradicate ants from your house and prevent them from coming back.
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