The presence of winged ants, also known as alates, on windowsills is a common occurrence during their mating flight season. Understanding their behavior and employing suitable strategies can assist pest management professionals (PMPs) in effectively addressing this issue. The majority of ant species in the U.S. have winged alates in their colonies. Notable examples of species that include winged ants in their colony, include carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.), pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum), and cornfield ants (Lasius neoniger).
Scenario 1 — Landmark-seeking behavior and male congregation:
During the mating flight season, winged ants actively seek prominent landmarks such as trees, treeline edges, or parks as reference points for attracting mates. Male ants congregate near these landmarks, awaiting the arrival of females.
Scenario 2 — Post-mating behavior:
After mating, male-winged ants may display erratic flight patterns attached to lights, or rest in various areas before eventually perishing.
Scenario 3 — Winged females and colony establishment:
Having mated, winged female ants shed their wings and actively search for suitable sites to establish new colonies. These sites can include nearby soil, areas beneath slabs, or within wooden structures.
Scenario 4 — Colony expansion and emergence of winged ants:
When an ant nest reaches a significant population, many winged ants are produced for reproductive purposes. This expansion leads to the emergence of winged ants from the nest.
Effective strategies for managing winged ants on windowsills include:
1. Identification and thorough inspection:
- Accurately identify the ant species involved to understand their behavior and nesting habits.
- Conduct a comprehensive inspection of windowsills and their surroundings indoors and outdoors, identifying cracks, gaps, or openings that may serve as entry points
2. Baiting and tracking:
- Place ant baits near windowsills to attract ants and track their movements back to nesting sites.
- Monitor the ants’ trails to pinpoint the colonies’ exact location for targeted treatment.
3. Cleanliness and removal of attractants:
- Regularly clean windowsills and surrounding areas to eliminate potential food sources, spills, or organic matter that may attract winged ants.
4. Sealing entry points:
- Seal cracks, gaps, or openings around windowsills and adjacent areas using appropriate sealants to prevent ants from entering.
5. Customer education and proactive measures:
- Educate customers about the natural behavior of winged ants during the mating flight season and assure them that implementing the recommended solutions can effectively address the issue.
- Encourage customers to maintain proper sanitation practices and promptly address structural issues that may serve as potential entry points for ants.
To conclude, managing winged ants on windowsills during the mating flight season requires a systematic approach that includes accurate identification, thorough inspection, baiting and tracking, cleanliness, sealing entry points, customer education, and proactive measures. By implementing these strategies, PMPs can effectively locate nesting sites and provide long-term solutions to mitigate the issue. Understanding the various scenarios of winged ant behavior enhances the ability to tailor the approach to specific situations, ensuring the successful management of winged ants on windowsills.