Flying ants are a nuisance for many Arizona residents. In large swarms, they invade homes, especially in the Tucson area and southwest of Arizona state.
Over the years, flying ants have become a state-wide annoyance.
That has led to the sudden appearance of adult ants, including the biting and woodboring ants, in many Arizona homes.
This guide will give Arizona residents a rundown on the ins and outs of flying ants in Arizona.
If you’re an Arizona resident or planning to move there, this guide will help you up your guard against flying ants.
You’ll also find the hacks to eliminate flying ants and prevent them from entering your home and property.
What Are Flying Ants
Flying ants, also known as winged ants, belong to a particular caste, known as alates, in an ant colony.
Simply put, castes in ants are the work functions that ants will perform. It’s a societal hierarchy in their colony that depends on the type of labor they’ll do.
There are three main castes in ants – reproductive females, reproductive males, and non-reproductive females.
The non-reproductive females are the sterile ants. These ants are also known as worker ants.
Worker ants perform the work of building the colonies, hunting for food, and feeding the larvae and the queen, which is a reproductive female.
A particular ant nest or ant colony has limited space. It can only accommodate a specific number of ants.
So, when the number of ants increases, many reproductive ants decide to leave. At that time, they develop wings. These reproductive ants are also known as alates.
And the purpose of leaving their current colonies is to find a new place to start a new colony.
The alates lose their wings on finding a new place to start their colony. And they mate.
The male reproductive ants fertilize the female reproductives. Depending on the ant species, they enter a piece of wood or underneath the ground to lay eggs and start a new colony.
The Ant Lifecycle
There are four stages in an ant’s lifecycle – eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults.
The first stage is the egg. The queen ants lay hundreds of eggs in their nests.
Ant eggs are white, oval, soft, and tiny, like the period at the end of the sentence. The eggs hatch in eight to ten days.
However, not all eggs hatch. The worker ants working in the colony will eat a few of them when there’s a shortage in the food supply.
After hatching, ant larvae come out of the eggs. The ant larvae are tiny white, legless, and eyeless worms. They can’t feed themselves. It’s the worker ants that supply them with food.
The larvae, after 30 days, turn into pupae. Pupae is a lifecycle stage where the ants’ larvae will build a cocoon around themselves.
The ant larvae remain in the pupae stage for 30 more days. They emerge as adult ants.
Some adult ants, both males, and females, will develop their wings to fly off and start a new colony.
What Do Flying Ants Look Like
Flying ants have pinched waists, just like the adult ants, elbowed antennae, a transparent pair of wings where the front wings are bigger than the hind wings and grow up to 18 mm in size.
However, there’s one thing to keep in mind. The size of the flying ants is dependent on the species of ants.
For example, alates of the carpenter ants (which are big black ants common in Arizona homes) are bigger than the harvester ants (which are tiny orange, red, brown, or black ants)
The winged ants’ color is also dependent on the ant species. The flying carpenter ants are darker than the other species of ants.
Many people confuse between flying ants and flying termites. That’s a costly mistake.
Flying termites look like flying ants, but there are many differences in their anatomy that you can spot to differ between the two.
Flying termites are smaller than flying ants. They do not grow more than 0.4 inches.
Other critical differences in their anatomies are –
- Flying termites don’t have pinched waists like flying ants. Their bodies are in the shape of worms with legs.
- Flying termites don’t have elbowed antennae like flying ants. Their antennae are straight.
- Flying termites’ wings are of the same size. In contrast, the hind wings of the flying ants are smaller than the frontal wings.
When Are Flying Ants Active In Arizona
The flying ants swarming season in Arizona is during the monsoon. So, from June 15 to September 30, you’ll most likely see flying ants invading your home and property.
However, flying ants don’t swarm immediately after the rain. Swarms occur if there have been rains at least 24 hours before and the weather is warm and sunny.
The swarms can rise as high as 20 feet above the ground. And depending on the ant species, they choose their nesting and mating site.
You’ll find swarms of one of the most common ants in Arizona, especially in Southern Arizona, the harvester ants, crawling on your lawn or the soil bed of your yard.
These ants are light-colored. They’ll lose their wings and dig into the soil to start their colonies.
In contrast, the swarms of carpenter ants, which are black, will make a move inside your home, or they’ll target the firewood pile in your yard.
These ants are woodboring. They’ll mate and lose their wings.
The female and male reproductives will drill inside the wooden structures of your home to lay their eggs and start the colony.
These flying ants will enter homes through open windows. So, you’ll also notice them gathering on the windows trying to make their way inside your home.
Flying ants are also one of the flying bugs that attracted to light. So, they’ll follow the light source from your home and get inside.
The flying carpenter ants will primarily target damp wood because wood with high moisture content is easy for them to drill.
The carpenter ants will build elaborate tunnels inside the wooden structure. And they’ll deposit their eggs in the tunnels.
Three signs will tell you flying carpenter ants have invaded your home –
- Broken wings of dissimilar sizes lying on the ground
- Tiny pin holes on the damp wood
- Fine sawdust on the floor. The ants ejected the sawdust from the holes.
But unlike termites, carpenter ants are not wood eaters. They will only lay their eggs and move out of the wooden structure.
How To Stop Flying Ants From Invading Your Home?
In the swarming season, install window screens with fine mesh.
Open windows are the main entry points for these ants and for many tiny bugs in Arizona homes.
So, it is essential that you use the screens so that bugs and flies don’t enter the house.
If there are any wide vents, like vents in the attic, then cover that too with a window screen.
Use an insecticide spray on them to kill any flying ants that have entered your home. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dead ants from the floor.
To eliminate flying ants naturally, mix one part of liquid dish soap with two parts of water. Add 5-7 drops of peppermint essential oil to the mixture and stir the mixture well.
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on the flying ants.
The soap in the mixture dehydrates them by absorbing the fats in their bodies, and the peppermint oil chokes them.
You can also use your vacuum cleaner on the flying ants to suck them up and dispose of the vacuum dust bag.
Keep sticky ant traps in your yard or garden, especially in shaded regions. Flying harvester ants will congregate in these regions to start their colonies.
Can Flying Ants In Arizona Bite Humans?
Flying ants don’t actively seek any human or animal to bite. Their main purpose is to mate and start a new colony, so biting anyone is the last thing in their head.
But if flying ants accidentally land on your body and feel threatened, they can bite.
If flying ants land on your body, don’t panic, and don’t try to smash them. Use your finger or a piece of paper to knock it off your body.
Why Do Flying Ants Suddenly Appear?
You don’t see flying ants often. They have a swarming season when they leave their nests to move on to other nests.
So, their appearance is always sudden.
However, there’s a catch. If you’re seeing flying ants inside your home and noticing holes in the wooden structures and pieces, then there might be an active ant colony in your house.
In that case, please do call a pest controller for an inspection of your home.
Why Are Flying Ants In Arizona So Bad In 2022?
There can be multiple reasons for it. More rains, high temperatures, and humidity play a massive role in the spread of bugs in Arizona.
Like ants, bugs that depend on moisture and warmth are spreading more, especially in the southern states like Florida and Texas.
States with the least bugs are also going through a sudden uprise in bug infestations.
Mosquitoes are starting to become a menace because of these same reasons. But thankfully, there are no mosquito-borne diseases in Arizona and the US.
Flying ants in Arizona are active during the monsoon season when they swarm and invade homes.
Flying ants swarm to find a new place to start a new colony.
This guide went deep into how flying ants develop and how to protect your home from a flying ant invasion.
So, if you’re an Arizona resident or planning to move there, you may want to keep this guide handy to protect your property from flying ants.
We are Mark and Jim. We dabbled with bugs and pests for most of our lives. And we provide information and hacks that work in making your home pest free.