Are Flying Ants Real?
The animal world is full of flying creatures that aren’t birds, including: flying fish, flying frogs, flying lizards, and flying squirrels. Technically, these animals don’t fly, but glide or parachute through the air while falling. Flying fish and frogs sound kind of fun. Flying ants? Not so much. And yes Virginia, there are flying ants.
Most ants are the opposite of creatures that soar through the air—they spend their lives in pitch-dark colonies deep underground. However, those colonies don’t get there by accident. Each one is created by a queen whose only concern is hatching out thousands upon thousands of wingless, sterile female workers to care for the young, clean the nest, forage for food, and defend against invaders. But like any good monarch, the ant queen always wants to expand her realm. This means producing new colonies and that’s where the flying ants come into the picture. When a colony is functioning at peak level, the queen makes expansion plans. She actively chooses to produce a generation of sexually developed, winged male and female ants.
When the time is right, the winged ants, called swarmers, fly out of the ground on what is called a nuptial flight or flying ant day. The virgin females fly through the air releasing pheromones to attract much smaller winged males. The males go nuts, fighting one another for a fast, frenzied go at the females. During the mating process, the male’s genitalia explodes inside the queen and it falls on the ground to die. The queen is left with millions of fertilized eggs which she can produce for a lifetime—up to 30 years. The queen lands on the ground, removes her wings, and digs a new colony for her offspring.
The good news is, flying ant day is just that—a day of flying ants. However, if you see ants flying in or around your home, you have a problem. The larger ants are queens seeking to create colonies filled with millions of ants. You better get some ant bait stations and place them around the house so your home does not become part of the queen’s master plans for her growing empire.