While most ants are wingless and flightless, flying ants, also known as alates or swarmers, are still normal carpenter ants. They just only come out during certain times of the year to do work for their ant colonies.
Seeing a flying ant in your home or yard can be troubling but is by no means a reason to panic.
While a few unwanted insects during the hot summer months doesn’t necessarily indicate a pest problem, seeing larger quantities in your home during the winter means you likely have a bigger issue on your hands. Because this species tends to seek shelter indoors during cold winter months, spotting even a few buzzing around your home during the winter might mean you have carpenter nest nearby. Luckily, getting rid of these pesky bugs is not hard if you follow these simple steps.
Step 1 - Identification
The first thing you will want to do if you have started to notice flying ants in your home is make sure they are definitely not termites. While the two insects look alike, there are distinctions. Winged ants have bent antennae and thin waists constricted at the thorax. Even more noticeable are their wings. An ants' wings are different sizes with the hind wings appearing smaller than their front wings.
Termites differ in all three of these respects. They have straight antennae, wider waists, and both sets of their wings are equal in size.
Once you are certain that you are in fact dealing with ants, you can proceed to the next step. However, if it turns out that termites are the issue, you need to call professionals to handle it because termites are no joke, and you don’t want to take any half measures in dealing with them.
Step 2 - Inspection
Inspect the entire inside and outside of your house to figure out where the ant infestation is coming from. Ants will most likely be found in attics and in places that are damp and moist like under sinks, inside bathrooms, on window sills, and around plumbing locations. If you discover that the bugs are ultimately small in number, you can simply use a chemical aerosol spray to get eliminate them. Additionally, boric acid, sugar traps, boiling water, and baking soda are effective ways you can kill off these unwanted insects.
Step 3 - Locate the Nest
If during your investigation you discover the flying ants are numerous and uncontrollable via aerosol spray, it may mean there is a larger nest or even nests nearby. Follow their trail and it will lead you back to their nest. Once you have located one or more nests, you will need to apply gel bait, which you can find at your local hardware store. When properly administered, the ants will take the gel bait back to their nests, which will in turn kill off the entire colony.
Step 4 - Seal Points of Entry
If can’t locate any nests, then the ants are probably just coming in from the outside. This means you’ll need to seal up any cracks or broken seals in your foundation large enough for the flying ants to enter. Use a silicone caulk to close these points of entry, and for added measure, spray water and soap in problem areas to prevent the pests from entering your living space. If you do eventually spot a nest that nearby your home (as opposed to inside), pour boiling water on it. This will drive the colony further from your property.
Step 5 - Prevention
Even after you’ve successfully dealt with any flying ants present in your home, there are several things you can do in order to prevent them from returning. One easy change is to cut down on the amount of food waste around your kitchen.
Food waste or debris that is left laying about it like a free meal to these insects, so in order to stop them from coming into your house for a snack, make sure leftovers are dealt with in a timely manner, counters are kept clean and free of food sources, food is tightly locked away in containers, and garbage bins are located in a secure place.
As mentioned, over the counter pesticides are effective and boric acid in particular is a great way to get rid of an entire colony as well as keep ants out of entry points. The drawback with these is their harsh chemicals. A more natural alternative is peppermint oil. Peppermint kills the ants by suffocating them, making this an effective, easy option. A recipe for this solution includes liquid soap, water, and peppermint essential oil.