Winged Carpenter Ants
Winged Carpenter Ants Identification: Are Flying Ants Carpenter Ants?
Anatomy of Flying
A front and rear pair of wings carry the 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch bodies of functionally reproductive, winged carpenter ants, which are identical in structure and only slightly larger in size than those of worker carpenter ants. Flying carpenter ants possess a narrow, wasp-like waist between the abdomen and thorax.
The wings are positioned in the middle of the thorax, and the front pair of wings extends further than the rear pair. The distinctly veiny wings are opaque in appearance and stand out on black carpenter ants commonly seen in the New England area.
Reasons for Flying
Winged carpenter ants are produced when a nest reaches several thousand members, which takes about three to seven years to achieve. The reproductive swarmers fly away from the nest in search of food and a suitable location to start a new colony.
Winged carpenter ants mate during the nuptial flight, and the male dies shortly after fertilization. A female drops her wings and lays 15 to 20 eggs at a potential nesting site, often in or around moist and rotting wood.
While finding a good locale for a new nest remains important, food discovery is an equally paramount factor during carpenter ant swarming seasons. Carpenter ants do not eat wood but only nest in it, and the insects often look for nesting sites near potential food sources.
When You Might See Them Flying
Swarming happens in the late spring or early summer. During the summer months, carpenter ants typically produce several hundred winged reproductives that overwinter and then swarm when temperatures become warm. Carpenter ants may swarm sooner when nesting in warmer climates or buildings with sufficient heat.
Homeowners who spot winged carpenter ants around windows, doors, or other areas of the house should take precautions immediately by calling pest control services. When spotted around living areas, flying carpenter ants may be swarming from a nearby location or from a nest already inside the house.