Flying ants: what are they and why do they appear?

Flying ants are ants that have nomas that are not a specific species of ant, but ants at a certain stage of their life cycle: mating.

When an ant colony enters the mating season, many individuals develop wings, although not all. Both male and female ants develop wings and, after mating, die, except for a few females who become queen ants.

Queen ants shed their wings and lay eggs for the rest of their lives to increase the colony.

Many species form colonies with only one queen ant, but there are species that have more than one queen in each colony. The queens lay thousands of eggs from which worker ants hatch.

Both queen and worker ants are female, but only queen ants are fertile. There are usually only a few male ants in each colony, and all males are fertile and winged, and their only function is to mate. Females are born from fertilized eggs and males are born from unfertilized eggs.

The nuptial flight of winged ants

In most ant species, mating occurs annually (they are univoltine), usually in autumn. At this moment the males and the queens, both with wings, perform what is known as the nuptial flight. They leave the colony, usually to high places, such as trees, roofs and hills, and there they mate with individuals from neighboring colonies.

o the males die soon after and the queen flies to a suitable location to establish a new colony; she rarely flies back to her home colony. Once the location is chosen, the queen loses her wings, builds a small nest and begins to lay eggs. o The queen stores the sperm collected during mating and carries out selective fertilization of the eggs she lays.

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Establishment of new colonies is successful by a small percentage. Queen ants that manage to establish a new colony will dedicate themselves to laying eggs for the rest of their lives, in some species up to 30 years, having mated only once.

Flying termites and flying ants are often confused. To tell them apart you have to look at them closely. Ants have three parts: head, thorax and abdomen. Termites have only two parts: head and body.

Gallery

flying ant mating Wingless queen ant digging new nest Different varieties of Atta cephalotes

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