Can Carpenter Ants Fly?

Can Carpenter Ants Fly

Carpenter ants are insects that build their nests in wood, preferably wood that is damp or decayed. They accomplish this by chewing up the wood to make tunnels to protect their offspring. In a natural setting, carpenter ants actually perform a valuable role by promoting the decomposition of dead trees. However, an infestation can cause extensive property damage and requires carpenter ant pest control.

While ants are generally not known for flying, there are some that do have wings. These winged carpenter ants have a very specific role to fill, and if you see them around your property, it can mean bigger problems for you.

Why Do Some Carpenter Ants Have Wings?

To understand why some carpenter ants have wings, you have to understand the different roles that individual ants play in the colony:

  • Workers
  • Queen
  • Swarmers

The workers are responsible for guarding the colony and finding food for it. The queen’s job is to reproduce so that there is always an adequate supply of worker ants. While carpenter ants are one of the largest ant species, swarmers are large relatives to the others in their colonies, and they are the only carpenter ants with wings.

There are both male and female swarmers, and they have very specific jobs to do. The male swarmers’ job is to fertilize the female swarmers. The female swarmers’ job is to fly off and establish a new colony by laying their eggs, at which point their wings fall off. In other words, every female swarmer has the potential to become the queen of an entirely new colony, assuming nothing happens along the way to prevent her from laying her eggs.

How Can You Identify Carpenter Ant Swarmers?

How can you tell if the insects pestering you are carpenter ants rather than other insects? Generally speaking, carpenter ants are bigger than other species, with a heart-shaped head and a rounded abdomen. They are usually black in colour but can also be red or brown.

Carpenter ant swarmers can grow up to three-quarters of an inch long. The wings attach to the thorax, and there are actually two pairs of wings, with the front pair being longer than the back pair.

Some people confuse carpenter ant swarmers with termite swarmers. Termites are another insect species that can cause extensive damage to the wood of your home. In the case of termites, it is because they eat the wood rather than just tunnelling through it. Like carpenter ants, termites produce winged swarmers to establish new colonies as well. However, you can tell the difference between carpenter ants by the antennae shapes, body structure, and wing size.

Why Are Carpenter Ant Swarmers Bad News?

Carpenter ant colonies do not start producing swarmers right away. It is only after a couple of years when the colony is well established, that the queen starts hatching swarmer ants. Therefore, if you see winged carpenter ants around your home in significant numbers, it probably means that there is a colony that has been present on your property for a while. It is therefore a matter of some urgency to get the infestation under control and prevent further property damage to your home.

Where Should You Check for Carpenter Ant Damage?

While the presence of swarmers on your property suggests a potential infestation, it can be helpful if you can determine exactly where they have made their nests. Check for evidence of carpenter ants in areas where there is water damage or heavy moisture, as carpenter ants like damp wood best. Check hollow doors, flooring, windows, and attics for evidence of carpenter ants, which include holes in the wood and little piles of a sawdust-like material where they have pushed the debris out of their tunnels.

Once you have identified the site of the infestation, it is time to take action against it. Truly Nolen can help you with carpenter ant pest control.