Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

Get Rid of Ants Effortlessly

Almost every square foot of earth is populated by ants of one species or another. For the most part, those trillions of ants do not have wings. However, some are known by the highly technical, scientific term, “winged ants.” And if you see one—or a dozen—you better hope you’re standing outdoors because high-flying winged ants only have one thing on their tiny minds. They’re going to breed or die. Or in the case of the males, breed AND die.

To understand the winged ant phenomena, first look underground to the ant colony. Ants live in complex societies largely populated by wingless, sterile female workers that care for the young, clean the nest, forage for food, and defend against invaders. The most important worker job is servicing the queen and caring for the thousands of legless larvae she produces. When an ant nest is well-developed, fully functioning, and with resources to spare, the queen can decide to expand the colony beyond its boarder. The queen actively chooses to produce a generation of sexually developed, winged males and females.

Winged ants are called swarmers for a reason. They swarm out of the ground tasked with the mission of starting new colonies. During this event, called the nuptial flight or flying ant day, the virgin queens release pheromones to attract much smaller winged males. With only a single purpose in mind, the males fight one another to get to the queens. During the fast and furious mating, the male ant achieves his life’s purpose when his genitalia explodes inside the queen. After that, he’s a goner.

As the males writhe on the ground in their death throes, the queen is satisfied, filled with millions of fertilized eggs she can release throughout her lifetime, which might last several decades. The queen lands on the ground, removes her wings, and begins digging a new colony for her offspring. Some years later, when the colony is up and running to speed, she’ll produce another generation of winged ants. Such is the beauty and mystery of the winged swarmers, virgin queens, and exploded genitalia of ant reproduction.