TribLIVE

| Lifestyles

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Winged ants not harmful to yard, pets

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012
 

Q: Occasionally during late summer/early fall I see hatches of what looks like a winged ant coming from areas of my lawn. When I locate the actual hatch area in the lawn, I find hundreds of the "flying ants" coming out of the lawn and taking flight. I spray organic insecticides on the area and it will slow or stop the hatching temporarily. After a short time, the hatching will restart. What are the bugs• Are they harmful to our dog• How do I prevent future hatches?

A: Since ants are not considered to be a garden pest, my knowledge of them is limited, and so I headed to an expert for his advice about your issue. Scott Creary is an entomologist with Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Oakland. "Ant swarming in summer is a totally natural and harmless occurrence," he says. "What this person is likely seeing is the winged male ants -- and a few unmated queens -- emerging en masse."

The wingless ants we commonly see are workers and are not capable of reproduction. As a result, every few years, any given ant colony begins to generate winged individuals capable of reproduction. In late summer, these winged adults hit the skies to establish new colonies, very few of which survive to the point of establishment.

"All the males of any given species emerge over the same span of a couple days, so you can end up seeing some pretty awesome numbers out there," Creary says. He also notes that these winged males are especially pronounced after a couple days of heavy rain, which makes the soil easier for the ants to excavate.

Creary says any fears about these insects are unfounded. They are not harmful to you, your pets or your home. "Ants are one of the most numerous and beneficial insects in the soil, aerating the ground and providing valuable nutrient cycling. These swarms are not going to result in a massive upswing in total ant populations; most males die in a day or two anyway. Control techniques are not warranted."

However, these winged ants are commonly mistaken for termites, which also have a winged, reproductive form. Annual winged termite emergence, however, happens mostly in spring and most often occurs indoors. An easy way to tell the difference is to have a look at the antennae: winged termites have very straight antennae while winged ants have an elbow-like bend in them. If you find winged termites in your home, it could be a sign of an infestation.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp
  2. Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
  3. Architecture: Visionaries saw buildings but not the political surroundings
  4. Gameday: Pirates at Reds, Aug. 2, 2015
  5. Western Pa. prosecutors zero in on human trafficking; legislation pending
  6. East Liberty native steps off Broadway to bring ‘Kinky Boots’ home
  7. Road Trip! Destination: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  8. Zimbabwe suspends hunts amid outcry over lion’s death
  9. Bin Laden relatives among crash casualties
  10. Mercer Co. woman charged in husband’s shooting death
  11. Former Steeler Mendenhall relishes writing for HBO’s ‘Ballers’