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Why Some Ants Have Wings

Ever spotted ants with wings and wondered what's up with that? Those aren't your regular backyard ants—they're gearing up for a big event. Turns out, those wings signal a crucial stage in their lives: they're getting ready to mate and start new ant colonies. In this blog, we'll dig into why some ants have wings, what they're up to when they do, and why it matters to homeowners in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins as well as throughout Northern Colorado.

winged carpenter ants

Why some ants have wings 

A winged ant isn't another "kind" of creature. Both winged and wingless ants are insects. However, a winged ant has abilities that wingless ants don't, most notably the ability to fly. This ability is crucial as its primary purpose is to travel away from the source nest and create a new one.

When an ant nest matures, winged ants, the reproductive members of the colony, leave the nest to find mates and once they’ve accomplished that task, they’ll start building new nests. 

Ants aren’t the only winged insects to watch out for. 

Like most ants, termites are insects whose reproductive members have wings and start new colonies. 

  • When a nest matures, ants and termites send out winged reproductives to create new nests, which often happens in spring or early summer. 
  • The winged reproductives gather into a swarm and are often called swarmers. 
  • After mating, ants and termites drop their wings and become the queens and kings of new nests—well, this is the case for termites. Only the queen ants survive the process; the king ants die off. 
  • When established near a man-made structure, carpenter ants and termites pose a threat as they can damage structural wood.

It is critical to properly identify winged ants and termites when you see them on your property. Let's quickly look at identification.

Is it a carpenter ant?

Although we have a variety of ants in our region, the most concerning species is the carpenter ant. Why? These big, black ants are wood-damaging pests that will cause damage to homes and other structures over time. Winged carpenter ants are often mistaken for flying termites and vice versa. 

To determine if your winged insect is a carpenter ant or termite, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what both pests look like. Let’s start with the carpenter ant. 

The reproductive members of a carpenter ant colony are approximately one-inch long and entirely black. If you’re able to get close enough, you might notice the distinct segmentation that ants are known for - head, thorax, and abdomen with pinched waist. They have forewings that are larger than their hind wings; both pairs of wings are transparent or light brown. Carpenter ants also have antennae that are bent like bike handlebars. 

Is it a termite?

Subterranean termite swarmers are typically dark brown to black in color. They may appear reddish-brown as well. They have elongated bodies with “thicker” waists. These wood-destroying insects have two pairs of wings that are clear with few prominent veins running along their length. When at rest, the wings extend past the length of their body. Their antennae are straight and bead-like.

What to do about winged ants and termites?

Dealing with winged ants and termites can be concerning, but it's important to take prompt action to prevent further or potential damage to your home. The first step is to accurately identify the pest. Although carpenter ants and termites have similarities, how you eliminate them depends on the species. For best results, we recommend contacting a pest control company at the first sign of a problem. 

How EnviroPest exterminates ants & termites

Whether you’ve discovered flying ants or termite swarmers on your property, EnviroPest can help. Our home pest control services start with an initial inspection and treatment that targets ants and other house-infesting pests. The plan also includes seasonal pest treatments to ensure bugs and rodents don’t have the opportunity to re-infest.

For protection against termites, our Colorado pest control company offers effective termite control that includes:

  • A thorough termite inspection. 
  • Installation of Trelona® ATBS termite bait system.
  • Your complete satisfaction - 100% guaranteed.

EnviroPest has selected Trelona® ATBS to protect homes and businesses in our Colorado service area because it provides 24/7/365 termite colony elimination and effective monitoring for termite activity. We take care of the installation and maintenance so you don’t have to give these pests a second thought! 

Contact EnviroPest today for more information

Would you like to learn more about year-round pest control or advanced termite colony monitoring and baiting? We'd love to speak with you. Reach out to EnviroPest today. We have the experience to provide you the best pest control solution for your property, no matter what winged insect has shown up!

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