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Why Do Some Ants Have Wings?

a group of winged ants

Did you know that there are over 15,000 known species of ants? With that many different types of ants, it’s understandable to see some that don’t look like the rest. For example, some ants actually have wings. Keep reading to learn about ants with wings and the ant life cycle.

Why Do Some Ants Have Wings?

Some homeowners are surprised to learn that certain ant species have wings and can fly. Some ants have wings because they use them as part of the reproductive phase of an ant colony.

For example, like other insects such as wasps and termites, some ant species mate in flight. Reproductive ants in an ant colony leave their nest at the same time to find a mate and establish new colonies.

Winged ants, also known as alates, take part in the “nuptial flight” to protect their species’ survival. Specific environmental factors are required to develop sexually mature winged ants, such as certain temperatures and humidity levels.

During the nuptial flight, winged ants seek out a mate from another colony. This prevents the dangers of inbreeding and promotes genetic diversity.

The nuptial flight, also known as a swarm, usually occurs on a hot and humid day just after rainfall. The chances of finding a mate are heightened during these weather conditions, which is why winged ants swarm together and leave their colonies en masse.

If you’ve ever seen a winged ant swarm, you know it’s an amazing sight that can consist of thousands of ants at a time.

Ants only require wings to mate once. After mating takes place, female ants shed their wings. The females land and find a nesting place to establish a new colony. They lay their eggs and become the queens of their new colonies.

The eggs that hatch become worker ants, and it is their responsibility to build and maintain the nest for the rest of the colony. When the conditions are correct, some eggs will develop into swarming ants and develop wings, which causes the nuptial flight process to start all over again.

The Ant Life Cycle

Ants go through a four-stage life cycle, including the egg, larva, pupa and adult phases. How long each phase lasts depends on the species of ant. However, most ants are hatched as eggs underwater and remain in the water until they emerge as adults. This need for moisture is one reason why winged ants tend to mate after rainfall.

No matter what role an ant will fulfill in the colony, they all go through the same exact life stages until the pupa phase. This is when worker ants evolve into non-winged ants, and swarming ants develop wings.

Female winged ants become future queens of their colonies and give birth to a new generation of worker ants to maintain their nests while they reproduce. Depending on the species, ants may live for only a few days or can live for a few years.

two ants on a rope

Where Do Ants Go In Winter?

Ants typically become a significant problem for homeowners in the spring and summer. Winged ants usually mate during warm weather, so it is most common to see a swarm of flying ants when temperatures get warmer.

It may seem like ants go away during the winter because they are not very active. However, this is not the case. The truth is that ants go into an inactive state in the winter when their body temperatures drop. They remain in the soil underneath rocks and mulch for protection.

Their inactive period allows ants to survive the winter season. They cluster together in order to stay warm and conserve their energy. Common winter hiding spots for ants include deep layers of soil, the bark of trees and underneath rocks. Their hiding places allow them to stay safe from predators. All of the worker ants crowd around the queen ant to safeguard the population’s future.

When are Ants Most Active? Signs of an Ant Infestation

Once the weather warms up, ants emerge from their inactive phase and resume regular ant activity. When this occurs depends on the weather where you live. In warmer areas, it can even occur in early spring.

With the resurgence of ant life comes all of the normal ant activities. They begin foraging for food, building their nests, reproducing and tending to their brood.

There are several signs of an ant infestation during this time. For example, you may spot trails of ants going back and forth between their nest and chosen food source. When you see a herd of ants congregated in one place, it means that their nest is nearby.

If there are ants inside your house, they will likely build a nest behind appliances, in drawers, under sinks and other areas that provide them with shelter and keep them out of sight of predators.

Even though you do not see as much ant activity in the winter, it’s not safe to assume that the ants are gone. The best way to control these pests from your home is to call in professional help.

a few ants

Do Ants Have Brains?

Ants are highly resourceful, diligent and communicative pests. They function in well-organized colonies where each ant has a role and specific job. Because of their impressive day-to-day activity, many homeowners wonder whether or not ants have brains.

Ants do have brains; however, they are incredibly small, especially in comparison to the rest of their bodies. Ant brains work overtime to coordinate ant behavior and communication. Without their brains, ants would not be able to survive as effectively as they do.

Even though ant brains are extremely small, they are intricate organs that have highly evolved brain structures and are capable of displaying complex behaviors.

An ant brain is made up of a central ganglion, which is a cluster of nerve cells that act as a processing center. This nerve center connects to other smaller nerve bundles throughout the ant’s body, which is how the brain coordinates movement.

How to Deter Ants From Your House

Ants may have tiny brains with limited cognitive capacity; however, they are extremely smart and skilled creatures. They can easily find their way indoors in order to find shelter, food, water and seek safety from dangerous predators.

As a homeowner, it’s important to take steps to deter ants from getting into your house in the first place. The more you know how to prevent ants with your habits and actions, the less likely you will have to deal with an annoying ant infestation.

First, seal up all entry points into your home. Ants are tiny creatures that only need a small opening to make it inside your house. Inspect your property for tiny crevices, cracks and holes that they could use as an entry point.

Pay attention to gaps in your doors, windows and foundation. Once you identify the entry points, seal them up using caulk or weatherstripping.

Next, eliminate potential ant food sources. Clean up messes, spills and crumbs right away, and do not leave food out uncovered. Clean your dishes nightly to avoid leaving out food residue. Store your dry goods in airtight containers so that ants cannot access them.

If you have pets, store their food in airtight containers as well, and do not leave the food out when your pet isn’t eating it. Additionally, fix any leaky pipes or faucets to eliminate water sources for ants.

You can try using natural deterrents, such as peppermint or citrus essential oils, to deter ants. Simply spray the oils around your home or leave out cotton balls soaked in the oils.

Natural solutions may provide some relief, but they are not enough to get rid of ants completely. For the most effective treatment, call a pest control expert.

Get Rid of Ants With Professional Help

Tired of dealing with ants in your home? There are thousands of ant species, and some of them have wings, which make them even more annoying pests. Many homeowners want to know more about how to get rid of ants in the house.

It’s tempting to turn to natural solutions to get rid of ants; however, the best way to deal with an ant infestation is to call an expert pest control service. A professional will use the best methods and treatments to fully eradicate the population and give you back your home.

ABC Can Control and Prevent Ants

Dealing with an ant problem can be extremely frustrating. Instead of trying to prevent or control ants on your own, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our highly trained pest control professionals will create a custom treatment plan, so you don’t have to worry about any type of ants, including fire ants.

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