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Ants with Wings

Wait, Do Ants With Wings Exist? You Have to Read This to Know

Ants with wings are not a different species, but are the sexually active male and female ants (queens) in a colony. Queen ants lose their wings after the nuptial flight while male ants retain their wings throughout their lifespan.
AnimalSake Staff
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Ants are omnipresent in nature, in which some species have the adaptability to survive in extreme climatic conditions. One of the interesting facts about ants is that they have the ability to lift things that are 20 times their body weight. As of now, more than 10,000 species of ants have been identified all over the world. A few commonly-occurring ant types include fire ants, carpenter ants, leaf cutter ants, and odorous ants.

Wingless and winged ants belong to the same species of flying ants. Thus, ants with wings are more or less similar to ants without wings. They differ in their physical characteristics and the role that they play in a colony. Wings are meant for nuptial flight, which is the pairing ritual for sexual reproduction. However, despite the class distinction, all the ants in a colony (winged or wingless) work in unity for the particular colony.

Characteristic Features

Ants are often considered as the second most socializing insects, next to honey bees. The colony size may differ from one species to another. Some ant colonies consist of a few dozen members while other colonies have more than a million. Each colony of ants can have one or more leading queens along with sterile female workers and sexually active male ants. Out of these, the queen and male ants bear wings. For a better understanding of ants with wings (also called swarmers), each of the ant classes in a colony are described below.

Queen Ant with Wings
Queen ants are the sexually active females in a colony. In a majority of the ant species, a colony has only one queen. Her duty is to mate with a male ant during the mating season and lay eggs. After mating, the queen ant loses her wings. The newly laid eggs hatch as worker ants, which then start a new colony. Eventually, queen ants and male ants are born, both of which develop wings and leave the colony for mating.

Male Ants with Wings
Male winged ants are smaller and/or lighter than queen ants. Hence, as soon as the weather is favorable, they swarm and leave the colony before the queen ant does, after which they mate in the air. Unlike queen ants, male ants do not lose their wings after the nuptial flight. However, they survive only for a short duration after mating is over. Thus, queen ants and male ants are important for establishing colonies.

Female Wingless Ants
As already mentioned, wingless ants are sterile or non-reproductive adult female ants. These neutral ants comprise the highest number in an ant colony. The duty of worker ants is to build nests, search for food, safeguard the young ones, and defend their colony. In short, wingless ants are the housekeeping group of a colony.

Ants with wings share features with other insects like termites and female wasps. Hence, termites are often referred to as white ants. The fact is that termites are closely-related to cockroaches rather than ants. There are some basic differences between flying ants and termites.

Control

These ants can survive in any place where there is a food source. It is not unusual to see ants with wings attracted to light. Ants can create a nuisance if they infest areas inside the house. Instead of using chemical pesticides, you can practice home remedies like lemon juice, a mixture of boiling water and dish soap, diatomaceous earth, a mixture of borax, sugar, and water, or a mixture of powdered sugar and baking soda, to get rid them. However, these may not work for getting rid of large ant colonies. In such a case, you can consult professional pest control services.

It is to be borne in mind that these ants bite humans. Though such ant bites may not be fatal, they can trigger allergic reactions and skin disorders. Considering this, timely control is the best tip to avoid future problems. If you maintain a healthy and clean environment in and around the house and deprive them of their food, you can easily control them.
Red imported fire ants
Black ant isolated on white background
Male worker carpenter ant from below
Isolated black queen ant