WINGED FLYING ANTS
When insects produce a swarm, also known as a reproductive flight, it is part of the seasonal activity of certain social insects, most importantly termites and ants. Normally insect swarms occur outdoors on a still, warm day. But if an ant or termite nest is close enough to a home, swarms may occur indoors.
Most insect species of ants are capable of producing swarmers. The conditions have to be just right for this to be accomplished. Winged ants are visible and easy to notice, but they are harmless. They are not the individuals that did the work of creating mounds in your lawn, dirt piles on your driveway or sawdust at the base of your hollow tree. Swarming is a temporary, natural event and is not a permanent or major problem. Winged swarmers are sexually developed, male and female ants that serve as emissaries from a healthy, well-established colony. They have very, very slim chances of success. Most will die of starvation, dehydration or will be eaten by birds, dragonflies or other predators. Though almost all will fail, just enough succeed to spread the species and ensure its survival. An interesting thing about swarming is that it typically occurs simultaneously among colonies in the same area. With no direct communication between different colonies, ants and termites seem to know when other colonies of the same species are going to send out potential mates, and time their swarms accordingly. Swarming is often triggered by one or more environmental clues such as temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and day length. Fire ants, for example, send out swarmers in the spring when the relative humidity is high and the wind speed is low. When you find numerous swarming ants inside your home, it means there is an ant nest either inside, underneath or very close to the structure. In most cases, if worker ants have not previously been a problem inside the home, the presence of swarming ants indoors should not be a cause for concern. Swarming typically lasts for only one day. This, and the fact that reproductive flights only occur once to a few times a year, means that a vacuum cleaner, or one-time use of an indoor flying insect spray, is often all that is needed to solve the problem. If you see no other evidence of ants other than occasional swarmers, then no further control may be needed. On the other hand, swarming ants may be evidence of an undesirable infestation. Outdoors, ignore swarmers if possible. Indoors, winged ants may be a nuisance or annoyance if they have emerged in the house or wandered in by mistake. There is little justification for treating winged ants beyond sweeping or vacuuming them up for disposal.
DISTINGWISHING ANTS FROM TERMITES
This ant swarmer is identified by its pinched waist and bumpy stem connecting the thorax and tail (gaster).
If you see no other evidence of ants other than occasional swarmers, then no further control may be needed. On the other hand, swarming ants may be evidence of an undesirable infestation. Having termites swarm in your home is an almost sure indication of a termite infestation. Unless it’s apparent that the termite entered through an outdoor window, you should contact a termite control professional. Save any specimens you discover for a professional to examine. If you find your home infested it is best to work with a professional termite or pest control company to eliminate the problem.
Ant swarmers are distinguished from termites by their pinched waists and elbowed antennae. Swarmers may or may not have wings.
Termites are recognized by their dark, straight sided bodies and long, equal-length wings. Ant swarmers have distinctly pinched waists (the joint between thorax and abdomen) and the four wings are unequal in length (two long and two relatively short). Ant antennae also bend sharply in the middle, whereas termite antennae are straight and flexible throughout their length and look beaded.
If you live in Naples, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, or anywhere in beautiful Southwest Florida and want to know about swarming insects or any other problem pest, call 239-455-4300 Collier Pest Control or look us up on our web site at collierpestcontrol.com for a full explanation on any of our services and Florida’s problem pests. Remember Florida does not have to be shared with insects.