Flying ants like these show up in fall in kalamazoo michigan area and begin to swarm and breed

Every year around Labor Day, swarms of flying ants show up all over Western Michigan. You might even remember the infamous “Flying Ant Day” of 2017 when the swarms descended on Detroit. Then, as mysteriously as they appear, they vanish without a trace. But what are these winged ants, and where did they come from? Where do they go after they’re done darting around all over the place, and are they going to try to infest your home this fall? Perhaps most importantly, why do flying ants show up every fall in the first place? 

On this page, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the enigmatic winged ants you find in Michigan every fall.

Why Are There Flying Ants on My Property?

Why do flying ants suddenly appear every fall? It’s simple: to reproduce. Flying ant swarmers spend most of the spring and summer inside their colonies where workers feed them. When late summer arrives and conditions are right, they emerge from the nest to seek mates and establish new colonies. 

When you find them on your property, it likely means one of two things:

  • They were there already
  • They are interested in establishing a colony there because the location has the resources they need

What Kind of Flying Ants Do You Find in Michigan?

Swarm of yard ant alates (swarmers) on side of house in fall in lansing michigan areaThe flying ants you see around September are reproductive swarmers of yard ants. Here are some things you should know about these yard ants:

  • There are more than 50 species of yard ants common in Michigan. This is why it seems like the swarming doesn’t stop for days.
  • Yard ants are related to carpenter ants, but they nest in the ground instead of chewing through wood. 
  • Swarmers are around ¼ – ⅜” long, reddish brown, with a hump between their heads and thoraxes. 
  • They look like normal ants in every way, except they have translucent wings that fold behind the ants’ backs when they aren’t flying.

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When Do Flying Ants Swarm?

Flying ants wait until the conditions are perfect to emerge and swarm. Generally, this will happen in late summer or early fall. Here are some favorable conditions for flying ant swarmers:

  • High temperatures and humidity; clear, sunny weather without much wind.
  • Swarmers often begin swarming on the first clear day after several days of rain.
  • Reproduction in late summer to prepare for winter. 
  • When conditions are just right, many species will begin the mating process at once. 
  • Although late summer reproduction is most common, other species may swarm at other times of year. Some flying ants swarm in spring, fall, or even mid-summer.

What Do Flying Ants Do?

Yard ant breeders near entrance to house in livonia michigan, ready to establish colony in house, the main danger of flying antsFlying ants exist for one reason – to reproduce. Basically, unfertilized flying queen ants (sometimes called “princesses”) leave their colonies and begin secreting attraction pheromones.

Princesses actually often fly away from males, forcing them to pursue to mate. The swarms you see are groups of male drones pursuing one of these princesses. Mating itself occurs very quickly and in midair. Male drones die very soon after mating. The fertilized female will fly to the ground and make a new nest. Soon after, she will lose her wings and begin laying eggs. The first of these eggs will hatch into workers, who will lay the foundations for a new colony.

Are Flying Ants Dangerous?

No. They won’t bite, sting, or attack you. Swarming ants aren’t aggressive, territorial, or defensive in any way; they only want to mate. Even if a swarm appears to be flying right at you, it’s only because they’re pursuing a princess. Swarms are more-or-less totally uninterested in people, though they may congregate on human structures. 

Swarmers may also accidentally flutter into buildings through openings like cracks and crevices, but yard ants can’t make their nests indoors. To form a nest, a fertilized queen must dig into the soil. Queens may build their nests near your home, however. 

When yard ants establish colonies near you, you may encounter their foraging workers inside your home. These workers aren’t dangerous, either, but they could be annoying.

Expert Ant Control in Michigan

Despite how frightening it can seem, swarming season is nothing to worry about. Flying ants aren’t dangerous, and they’ll die off and disappear very soon. If you’re very bothered by ant swarms this year or concerned about ant colonies in your home, our ant control services provide hassle-free extermination solutions.

Swarms may be more-or-less unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean ant infestations must be. If you have an ant problem in your home, give Griffin a call any time. We’ll find out why you have ants, where they’re coming from, and how to stop them.

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Why Do Flying Ants Show Up in the Fall? Serving Kalamazoo & Grand Rapids

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