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Do Fire Ants Have Wings?


If you are one of the people who say that they are not afraid of insects, we doubt you are talking about flying insects too. Some people are scared of spiders, while others detest cockroaches and bugs. However, one thing everyone agrees on is that flying insects are the most horrific!

You never know where they will land. Fire ants are well-known for their fiery bite, and imagining a flying fire ant is the last thing on most people’s minds.

Are you also thinking if fire ants can fly? The answer is yes! Fire Ants have wings, and they can fly.

What are Fire Ants?

Fire Ants are also known as the “Red Imported Fire Ants” as they belong to South America. They were introduced into North America through cargo ships in Alabama in the 1930s.

They belong to the family Formicidae and are scientifically known as Solenopsis Invicta. The study of insects, Entomology, is one of the branches of Biology under zoology.

These ants build nests and colonies in soil and live in them, just like we, humans, make communities in an ecosystem. Experts suggest letting them live and breed in peace as a disturbance in the colony will cause them to rise and sting humans. Fire Ants inject toxic alkaloid venom “Solenopsin” into their victims, which may be deadly for sensitive individuals.


Why do Ants Have Wings only Sometimes During the Year?

Wings are commonly used by insects and birds to move from one place to another for safety, protection, or to obtain food. However, the use of wings in fire ants is a little different.

The purpose of wings in fire ants is mating and breeding particularly. You may find the winged fire ants most abundantly during late spring and early summer. Yet, they are not confined to any season.

The reproductive winged ants are known as “alates“.

The male, “the drones,” and the female ants take part in “Nuptial fights” in late spring and summer. The males fly off in the sky and wait for the females in the air to mate.

The male alate dies after mating with the female; the female becomes a queen. She can fly one-quarter of a mile from the parent colony herself or move miles away through the wind. It allows her to start a new fire ant colony somewhere away from the existing one. The ants shed their wings after mating as they are useless now.

The queen lays the first batch of eggs and waits for them to develop into workers. The new colony multiplies as the queen keeps laying eggs, and the process continues.

How to Identify Fire Ants?

Seeing flying fire ants swarming around your home is not a strange sight in spring or summer. However, it is crucial to identify the ant species as termites and carpenter ants can harm your house. They can cause significant damage to buildings.

If fire ants are multiplying their populations in the mating seasons, you must prevent them from entering your house to avoid damage.

While winged fire ants and winged termites look pretty similar, they have a few identification points that can help you distinguish them. You may also deeply observe them under a biological or student microscope.

  • Winged ants have two pairs of wings; the hind wings are shorter than the fore wings.
  • They have a narrow waist between the thorax and the abdomen.
  • Their antennae are elbowed.

Ant Colonies

The adults in ant colonies comprise a queen, winged males known as drones, female reproductive ants, and worker ants. The size of ants differs in each species ranging from 1.5 to 4 mm in red fire ants and up to 20 mm in Texas leaf cutting ants. Typically monogyne species worker ants are larger than polygyne colony worker ants.


How to Control Fire Ant Colonies?

The swarms of flying fire ants can help you locate and control ant colonies around you. You can do so by sterilizing the queen, which is a complex process, or using a properly labeled insecticide through direct nest application.

If the ant colonies are not too close to you, experts recommend leaving the swarming ants alone.

The Bottom Line

Fire ants are known for their intense sting and the ability to poison sensitive individuals through their alkaloid toxin that you may study under a compound or electron microscope. Fire ants also have wings that appear during the mating season. The males (drones) die after mating, whereas the queen lays eggs to form a new colony. Fire ants may look similar to winged termites, but you can identify them through their wings and narrow waist. While fire ant colonies are not necessarily harmful, you may get rid of them using a labeled insecticide.


How many wings does a fire ant have?

Fire ants have two pairs of wings, and the hind wings are shorter than the fore wings.

What kind of ant had wings?

Alates are flying ants that develop wings for mating and reproduction.

Does a fire ant sting or bite?

Fire ants bite first to stick to your body and later inject their venom with their sting.

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