Every summer, we might notice large flying ant swarms either outside or near our windows. These flying ants are known as swarmers or alates, and they are the reproductive caste of a colony – future kings and queens. These swarmers set out each year to start new nests, some of which will grow into thriving colonies.
The most active months for swarming events are July and August, because the ants will need hot and humid weather to start a nest successfully. However, since temperatures in urban areas are generally warmer, the ants may start swarming sooner, while they will swarm at later dates in rural locations. As such, the swarming season can extend from June to September, depending on the species and location.
A colony needs to reach a certain level of maturity before it sends out swarmers. For the first part of its life, the colony is focused on growth and expansion, and in the latter part, it focuses on reproducing itself. Winged males and females leave the colony at this point every year, creating new nests in the surrounding area and ensuring the survival of the species.
The swarming phenomenon itself is interesting, because the alates will fly out in fairly large numbers from a single colony. This is because a lot of them do not survive or do not manage to reproduce successfully, and those that do, do not manage to build a successful colony.
What’s even more interesting is that the male swarmers only live for a few days after mating, while the queen will bite off its wings and get to work on building the colony. Initially, it will take care of everything, from foraging, to tunneling, and rearing the young. Once the first batch of workers reaches maturity, the queen switches gears, focusing exclusively on reproduction.
When you see swarmers on your property, you have to make sure that you are dealing with ants, which are only a nuisance and not very dangerous in most cases. The reason to check is because termites swarm as well, and their appearance can signal the presence of a colony in your home. A termite swarmer will have no separation between the segments of its body, and the four wings will be of equal length, while ant swarmers have a segmented body with one pair of wings being longer than the other. The only time you have to be careful about swarmers is when they come from a fire ant or carpenter ant colony. If you have any of these two species on your property, contact us today and we will remove them.