Why Do Ants Have Wings?

do ants have wings

At home, some homeowners have reported seeing winged ants during rainy seasons. These winged ants, known as alates or swarmers, can be identified by their elbowed antennae and thin waists with constrictions at their thorax region.

Queen ants participate in nuptial flights to mate and establish new colonies, after which the queen loses her wings for life and becomes queenless.

Swarming and mating

Ant swarms, an increasingly familiar summer sight, are the result of natural processes rather than an infestation. Winged ants (commonly referred to as alates) consisting of fertile male and female alates leaving existing colonies to breed midair in what’s known as nuptial flight.

Ants swarming can be truly breathtaking to witness and photo ops are available as they make for great photo opps; however, this doesn’t indicate they will invade your home or business! In fact, one may have even caused a match at Wimbledon to be cancelled last year!

Swarms of ants may appear throughout the year depending on their species and climate conditions, with most sightings taking place during swarming season. Virgin queens develop wings during this period to seek out male ants for mating purposes before dropping them back and beginning their new lives as queens in new nests with fresh queens laying eggs.

Ant swarming activities are essential to their species’ survival. Not only do ants use this time for mating and seeking food sources for their young, but swarmers must also find safe haven from predators such as dragonflies, Franklin’s Gulls, swallows and swifts who could otherwise capture them and devour their wings before mating occurs again.

Ants are social insects, living in structures known as colonies. These colonies can be found underground, on the ground surface, mounds or trees and contain hundreds or even thousands of individuals, all under the control of one queen ant. Aside from worker ants that build and maintain colonies, other castes include drones (males) who help locate suitable mates; virgin queens without wings but who still possess flight capabilities; once mated they lose them before laying eggs to create new colonies – this cycle repeats itself each time an ant population grows!


Most people think of ants as social insects that live in colonies consisting of workers, queens and males; few realize that ants also engage in budding activities to increase their population size. Budding is a process of asexual reproduction where an individual known as a bud emerges from some point on a parent organism’s anatomy – typically found among eukaryotic organisms (plants, fungi and insects), though prokaryotic ones (bacteria and yeast cells) also use this practice.

Buds usually form on an ant’s abdomen; however, they can also appear on its head, thorax and pedicel (the middle section). A bud acts like an appendage and connects other parts of an animal; those producing swarmers often feature numerous buds that don’t align in one direction, creating the appearance that their swarmers are disorganized.

Budding is used as a method of reproduction by ants that do not possess wings; during mating season, a queen from an ant species without winged swarmers chooses one of her reproductive males to accompany her in starting a new colony elsewhere; she and the reproductive male then leave their nest together with some worker swarmers, heading off in search of their chosen location to start it all over again.

The odorous house ant and the Pharaoh Ant are two examples of non-reproductive ants which reproduce by budding. Non-swarming non-reproductive ants increase their population through budding.

An abundance of winged ants near your home may cause alarm as carpenter ants are known to damage wood structures and become an infestation threat. It’s important to keep in mind that winged ants other than termites can be distinguished from each other by paying close attention to their physical characteristics; termite wings have equal length while forewings of an ant are longer than hind wings and their antenna is straight while an ant antenna may bend, with termites possessing straight antennae and bent or “elbowed.”

Losing wings

Every spring and summer, flying ants may appear suddenly and appear out of nowhere, seemingly with no purpose besides to invade. Yet it is essential to understand their purpose before dismissing them outright as pests.

Wings enable ants to mate during nuptial flight. An ant queen selects males to help found new colonies and travel together until they find an ideal site to set up the nest. Once established, female ants shed their wings since these vestigial structures serve no practical purpose underground – they would only get in their way and become an obstruction to movement!

Wings provide another deterrent against predators who consider ants an appealing food source. After mating and creating her colony, female ants will reabsorb the muscles used to power their wings – producing those fallen wings you might have encountered around your home.

Though ants don’t generally bite, their sting can still be painfully uncomfortable. That is why calling in professional pest control services if an ant colony appears in your home or garden can help identify its species and provide effective ant removal solutions. Our pest control experts offer such solutions.

We can assist with carpenter ant infestation in your home too! Contact us and one of our certified exterminators will come directly to your property to deliver relief!

Not surprisingly, encountering ants with wings is nothing unusual, but it’s essential to understand why they possess them. Ants are social insects that live in colonies usually located underground but some species can also build mounds aboveground. A single colony may contain hundreds of thousands of individual insects – worker ants (sterile females who do the work without wings) do not possess wings while reproductive larvae do – eventually evolving into winged stages known as swarmers which later mature into winged alates often confused with termites by their elbowed antennae and unequal-sized wings.


Swarming refers to a process by which ant queens and males develop wings as part of their reproductive cycle, often during spring. When mating occurs during the nuptial flight – held periodically throughout the year depending on species and climate – winged ants can often be seen flitting around during this season of the year, making for spectacular sights in spring.

Swarming begins when a queen releases pheromones that attract males from other colonies to her own colony. She then forms a new colony and nurtures preselected young ants until they mature sexually and develop wings – young ants are fed special food that aids this development process. Once matured, both genders leave to search for potential mates during mating flight – an amazing event to watch and an essential element of an ant’s life cycle.

As soon as a queen ant meets a male during mating flight, they mate midair and she sheds her wings. Once settled on an ideal site to establish her colony and lay eggs, she becomes solely responsible for tending her offspring and controlling reproduction within her family line.

As soon as a queen ant has laid her initial batch of fertilized eggs, she will begin laying more to control reproduction in her offspring. Ants born from these fertilized eggs will become worker ants who perform vital duties necessary to keeping an ant colony functioning efficiently; foraging for food, feeding offspring of queen, building nests and protecting territories among many others.

Though it may seem surprising that ants possess wings when performing such laborious tasks, their presence is in fact essential to their unique lifecycle and colony dynamics. Furthermore, producing winged alates for mating and dispersal helps maintain genetic diversity among species of ants – one reason they boast such an incredible array of species worldwide.

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