Whether you love camping and hiking or prefer spending time relaxing in your yard, you need to keep your eyes peeled for flying ants that bite. Flying ants usually only fly for a short time and only during mating season. Do flying ants bite? Yes, these ants can and do bite humans, which is why there are a few things you need to know.
Some flying will ants bite, depending on their species. Flying ants are just normal ants but with wings. As winged ants fly looking for mates, some species might bite. Watch out for ants with large, strong jaws like black carpenter ants. And for European fire ants that sting and inject acid.
Do Flying Ants Bite?
Not all flying ants have the ability to bite a human. Their jaws aren’t large or strong enough to effectively bite us.
Before we get to the specifics, we should confirm what flying ants are.
What Species are Flying Ants? Flying ants come in every species of ant. Flying ants aren’t a specific species – but a life stage of every ant species.
Winged ants are typically winged male ants. And sometimes you might see a new queen (female) ant that also has wings.
Flying Ant Colonies
While it might appear that you’ve discovered a colony of flying ants, this isn’t exactly accurate.
While there can be thousands of winged ants in one colony, this is a small percentage of the total number of ants in that colony.
The leader of the colony is a female adult that has large wings and can live for up to 15 years. She serves as the queen.
The queen will pick a male and mate with him before getting rid of her wings. Flying ant queens create other ants that leave the colony during mating season.
The reason why you see large swarms of these ants is that the queen produces multitudes of new ants that all leave the colony at the same time.
More Reading: 4 Types of Sugar Ants (How to Get Rid of Them)
Mating Season for Winged Ants
The mating season usually happens in the spring or early in the summer.
Most colonies wait until the temperature is high and there were a few days of rain as this creates the perfect environment for mating.
They coordinate with nearby swarms and leave their homes all at the same time. Working and flying in large groups protect them from their natural predators.
It takes about a day for them to mate, after which the male ants all die and the female ants fly away to form new colonies.
For this reason, male ants have been called flying sperm.
Flying and Biting Ants: 2 Types to Consider
You should know that flying ants bite but that not all types do.
The only flying ants that bite humans are the ants that bite humans when they don’t have wings. Carpenter ants are one of the most likely to bite. They have large and thick pinchers that they use to cling to your skin as they bite.
A few years ago, some carpenter ants set up home in an interior door in our house. We kept finding flying ants inside the house, and eventually tracked them back to a specific hollow door. From personal experience, I can confirm that flying carpenter ants bite – and they hurt.
Learn more about carpenter ant bites.
Some ants – like fire ants – release formic acid that makes the bite even more painful. If you’re too close to the swarm, you may suffer multiple bites from those ants.
Treating Flying Ant Bites
Flying ants usually only bite if they feel threatened. They may bite if they get under your clothes or in your hair.
Most people can treat their bites at home and recover within a few days. Simply place a cold compress on the wound for a few minutes or until the swelling goes down. Some find it helpful to take a pain reliever.
You only need to seek medical attention if you have an allergic reaction to the bite.
Fire ant bites (stings, actually) can be more serious. Always seek medical attention if you are unsure.
How to Avoid Flying Ant Bites
Avoiding the swarms is the best way to avoid flying ant bites. If you’ve been bitten, try to move to a different area right away.
If you notice large swarms of flying black insects outside, simply avoid them.
If they get inside your home or another enclosed area, you might want to use a chemical spray. These sprays allow you to target the swarm and kill dozens of ants or more within a few minutes.
If you don’t want to disrupt them, wear clothing that covers both your face and head along with your arms and legs to keep yourself safe.
Try to get to your car as soon as possible and stay at least a few feet away from the swarm.
More reading: 28 Animals that Eat Ants
Flying Ant Facts
Flying ants are simply ants that sprout wings as part of the mating process.
Not all ants have wings though.
- In some types of ants, the females lack wings while the males have them.
- Other species allow only the females to grow wings.
They use the seasons to determine when their mating season begins. This is usually in the late spring but can occur in the early summer or the middle of summer, especially if there was a long winter.
Flying ants often wait a few days after a rainy period before they coordinate with other colonies and come out.
These ants follow a specific life cycle.
During the mating period, the females find males and mate with them, which causes the males to die within a few hours.
The females then spread out from their original colonies and build new colonies. They can use the sperm from the males to produce thousands of eggs.
The process will then start again with her children spawning new mating seasons and colonies.
Learn more about little black bugs that bite.
More reading: Do Gnats Bite Humans? 3 Common Biting Gnats
Stay Safe from Flying Ant Bites
Flying ants can mate a few times a year and often work with other colonies to increase their ranks and stay safe. These swarms will bite humans they view as threats when they come too close. Though flying ants bite, you can avoid their bites and take care of any bites that you suffer at home.
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer at The Buginator. And is working to make it the best resource for taking back the outdoors from biting, stinging pests.
He also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Click Like This. Bryan is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company he runs with his wife, Dena.