Flying ants are frightful pests that, while harmless, can be irritating or frightening when they swarm. Because of this, many people wonder how to get rid of flying ants and what you can do to prevent them from over-running your property.
Flying ants are the fertile male and female ants who leave the nest to begin a new colony. Due to their nature, they tend to swarm and gather to reproduce. For many of the same reasons why ants come into the house, flying ants are attracted to food, shelter, and a safe space to multiply. It is important, therefore, to learn how to get rid of ants and flying ants to protect your home and yard from the nuisance they cause.
We have spoken to experts to learn what attracts flying ants and how you can get rid of them for good.
How to get rid of flying ants
'Although they can be a nuisance and alarming in great numbers, flying ants do not cause any harm and will go, usually as quickly as they appear, typically within a few hours,' explains Paul Blackhurst, technical academy head at Rentokil Pest Control. 'They provide a timely opportunity for birds to find food for their young, and their increased numbers could be seen as a positive sign for our natural ecosystems.
'After experiencing a prolonged period of warm weather across the country, we are seeing high numbers of flying ants taking to the sky, as they emerge from hiding to search for a suitable mating partner.'
While these bugs are fine outside, once they enter your home they can damage insulation or become a hazard around your food. Luckily, there are a few ways to get rid of flying ants if they have entered your home before they establish a colony inside of your property.
1. Block up points of entry
Unlike carpenter ants, flying ants typically remain outside where they can burrow into the soil and mate in the air. When they do end up in your home, however, it is likely they have entered by accident.
Flying ants' point of entry could be as simple as an open window or a broken vent, or something more difficult to find such as a crack or hole. It is important to fully seal these entrances preferably before the swarms begin so the bugs do not become trapped in your home.
Closing these entry points after they have entered your space will help to keep more intruders out but you will be required to use alternative means to remove the remaining pests from your property.
2. Use a vacuum to remove them immediately
If flying ants have swarmed in your home or settled on your surfaces using a vacuum is the most effective way of removing large swathes at a time.
If using the vacuum method, it is advised that you empty the vacuum into an outside garbage or hedgerow (as long as there is no other debris in the vacuum) as soon as they have been collected to prevent them finding their way back inside your home.
3. Use pesticides or bug sprays
Although not as quick a fix as the vacuum, spraying natural pesticides or your own homemade bug sprays can help to eliminate flying ants as well as crawling ants. When using these sprays inside make sure to use a non-toxic variety and spray with caution to protect your furnishings and lungs.
A natural spray can be made out of one part liquid dish soap, two parts water, and a few drops of peppermint oil. Strong smelling mint aromas are one of many smells that ants hate and will deter them from settling in or around your home. This solution helps to immobilize the ants and eventually dehydrate and suffocate them.
4. Remove the colony
The most effective way to get rid of flying ants for good is to attack the source. As with any pest infestation, it will be difficult to remove the bugs for good without eliminating their home and breeding ground. If you are able to locate the general area of the colony, set a bait trap to eliminate the colony all at once.
To make a bait trap mix any sweet substance such as honey or treacle with borax. Worker ants will collect this bait and take if back to the nest where it will kill the colony.
An alternative is to employ insecticidal dust that can be injected into the colony. This requires you to know the exact location of the colony and its tunnels, so it is best left to a professional exterminator to ensure the desired result without causing any harm to yourself or your garden ideas.
5. Call in a professional
Professional pest controllers can help you get rid of any pest invasion, though, in the case of flying ants, it's likely they will have disappeared again in the hours it takes for you to get someone to call at your home. If however, there is a bothersome colony that you have located, they can tackle this for you. If, however, they are not causing you a problem, leave flying ants well alone as they are an important part of the eco-system and make great food for wild birds.
What attracts flying ants to your home?
Flying ants are attracted to your home for many of the same reasons as regular ants: food and moisture to take back to their colony. If you find flying ants around your home it is a sign that the nearby colony is well established and secure enough to produce reproducing ants.
Ants can foster homes in almost any dark, hidden corner so it is worth checking to see if the colony is in your yard or somewhere in or beneath the house itself.
How to prevent flying ants
As with getting rid of termites, getting rid of water bugs and getting rid of grasshoppers, the trick to preventing an infestation is to eliminate or cover its food source. Make sure that food is in containers in the house and that any spillages or crumbs are cleaned away immediately. It is also recommended to not leave pet food outside as this can encourage pests into your home.
It is also advised that any cracks or holes into your property are sealed and covered to prevent bugs from getting in. This includes around windows, doors, and baseboards amongst others.
What is 'flying ant day'?
'The term ‘flying ant day’ often prompts the common misconception that this annual event occurs within the space of just a day, but in reality it occurs sporadically across different parts of the country as and when the weather conditions and temperature are right,' explains Paul. 'This natural phenomenon is in fact a survival tactic designed to overwhelm potential predators such as swifts and gulls. Mating takes place on the wing between the fertile male (the smaller flying ant) and the unmated female (the larger flying ant). Once mating has finished both will fall to the ground where the male dies and the new, now fertile queen, loses her wings and then starts to bury herself underground to form a new nest.'
Should I kill flying ants?
While swarming flying ants can be frightening, it is important to remember that they are great for outdoor environments. Because of this, it is wise to leave flying ants alive when you can.
If you see flying ants outside and away from your property it is best to leave them be. When flying ants have entered your home, however, exterminating the pests can be one of the few ways to get them out of your house.
How long do flying ants stay around?
Flying ants can stick around for a number of weeks, but the bug itself only lives for a few days. Hatchings and swarmings of flying ants can vary in size and time of year, although if they have hatched in your home or yard you should expect to see these insects for several weeks unless you get rid of them.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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