Flying ants are not a separate species from ants. They are simply ants at a certain stage of life, particularly the mating stage. Not all ants go through this step. Males that go through this stage die shortly after mating. Most female flying ants also die shortly after mating, but a few become queen ants, lose their wings, and then lay eggs for the rest of their lives to populate their colonies.
Ant colonies consist of queen ants that lay eggs and potentially thousands of worker ants that are sterile, wingless females. In sexually reproducing ant species, once the colony is well established, the ant queen will produce a small number of winged females and many more males. This usually happens once a year and at the same time as in neighboring ant colonies, often after several days of heavy rain.
Flying ants form several colonies and then swarm around certain places in the area, usually a slightly higher place, such as a hill, tree, or roof. This is sometimes called the top of a hill. Mating usually takes place in a day. Then the males die and the females disperse to establish colonies or, in rare cases, to return to their original colonies.
Establishment of settlements
Only a very small percentage of female flying ants manage to establish colonies. Survivors can lay eggs throughout their lives, sometimes 20 years or more, after mating only once. The queen’s sole purpose is to lay eggs, and the worker ants she produces perform tasks such as building the nest and providing her with food.
Ants and termites
Flying ants are sometimes confused with flying termites, and the opposite is also true. Termites, however, can be harmful to homes and other structures and are considered pests. Flying ants are usually more of a nuisance than a pest, although they can damage plants during the few days of infestation.
A person can distinguish between a flying ant and a flying termite by looking at them closely. A flying ant has three different body parts, including a small thorax between the head and abdomen, but a flying termite has only one head and one main body. A flying ant also has curved antennae and two sizes of pairs of wings. The antennae of a termite are straight and their pairs of wings are the same size.