How to get rid of flying ants – 7 expert tips for keeping the swarms at bay 

Try these clever idea to prevent these winged creatures from taking over your home.

This year has created the perfect flying ant storm due to the wettest March on record colliding with the hottest June, creating the ideal humidity for a bumper crop of flying ants. 

Ants develop wings when they are mature, and spend the remainder of their days dedicated to the business of mating and creating new colonies. But the trouble is, none of us wants their annual procreation fest to take place under our roofs or in our gardens.  

To understand how to get rid of flying ants, we enlisted the help of Fantastic Services pest control specialist, Iliyan Andreev. He assures us that flying ants are just doing what come naturally to them and for the most part, we shouldn’t be alarmed. 

“As the mating season approaches, young queen ants and winged males take off to find suitable mates and establish new colonies. Known as hillstopping, these gatherings are crucial to ant mating rituals. Even though flying ants might seem overwhelming at first, they are harmless to humans. In the natural world, their presence is a marvel, and you can coexist with them comfortably if you take the proper precautions and control measures. 

Flying ant swarmCredit: Shutterstock / Armando Serralde

According to the Royal Society of Biology, flying ants can be seen on as many as 96% of days between June and September, which means there is still a month and a half to go to fend off these free-loving bugs. Even if you are already under a full-blown invasion here’s what to do now and how to plan ahead for next year’s prolific flying ant offspring.

1. Maintaining a clean home is the first line of defence

Flying ants love a nice snack as much as you do

A dirty kitchenCredit: Shutterstock / Pixel-Shot

The easiest way to get rid of flying ants? Make your home less attractive to them by storing food properly. Flying ants are just mature ‘normal’ ants, and will be equally attracted to any sweet sticky foods they find lying about. 

Andreev says: “The simplest but most effective way to prevent flying ants is to keep your home clean. In the same way as all pests, flying ants are attracted to food sources around your house (kitchen, dining room, even your bedroom if you enjoy midnight snacks). Cleaning up your kitchen and dining areas can help deter them from entering your home. Additionally, make sure to store any food leftovers in airtight containers to discourage unwanted visitors.” 

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2. Get rid of any rotting and decaying wood

Keep moisture at bay to drive carpenter ants away

Rotting woodCredit: Shutterstock / Pataporn Kuanui

This is the top tip specific to deterring winged carpenter ants – replace any damp and decaying wood on your property that has attracted their nests. Also, you’ll need to repair and make good the source of the moisture. Leaks from plumbing or your roof will need to be eliminated. 

To keep further infestations from occurring, stop any direct contact between your wooden structure and the ground. This includes any things that attract moisture like piles of soil, plants and mulch.  

Have a big pile of firewood to store? Keep it as far from your home as possible and preferably in a dry place. 

Have a house framed or clad in wood?

During flying ant season if your home has a wooden frame it pays to pay special attention to whether the flying ants in your home are getting out of control. The last thing you want is a carpenter ant nest somewhere on your property. 

Winged carpenter ants are easy to mistake for termites – but carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood, they use their mandibles to drill holes in it. Carpenter ants prefer to nest outdoors but they are attracted to excessively damp areas like around windows, doors, showers, bathtubs, dishwashers, leaky pipes and drains, and under leaky roof shingles. They have also been known to build their nests in dry timber. 

Something as simple as open doors and windows or cracks in your wall and roof can give winged carpenter ants access to your home. 

If left to their own devices they can cause significant, and costly damage to any wood-frame structures you have including garages and sheds. 

Unlike other more harmless flying ants if you have a wood-framed property and suspect you have an infestation, once you have exhausted the other plans of attack, getting the professionals in should be a key priority. 

3. Make sure your home is secure

Keep your home crack free and fill in any potential entry points

Cracked wallCredit: Shutterstock / Skies Clear

Before the flying ant season begins, make plans to prevent them from entering your home. Inspect your property for cracks and repair any holes or gaps that would allow flying ants to enter. 

Andreev points out that flying ants are no different from any other creatures that will try to exploit weaknesses to gain entry to your home. “Ensure that you seal any potential entry points on your home’s exterior with caulk and check them on a regular basis. By taking this preventive measure, you will not only keep flying ants out but also other pests.” 

If flying ants are spotted in your neighbourhood, keeps windows and doors closed. 

4. Use natural oils

Citrus and peppermint will help keep them at bay

Peppermint and citrus oilsCredit: Shutterstock / Antonova Ganna

Try using natural deterrents like orange and lemon peel near spots you suspect flying ants may try to gain entry –  they find the strong scents off-putting. 

They also detest essential oils. Andreev adds: “You only need to add a few drops of your chosen essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water, and spray it on your windows, doors, and other potential entry points. You can also create a natural barrier around your home by planting herbs such as rosemary and peppermint.” 

As with house flies, fly screens will allow you to enjoy some fresh air and cool down while giving the flying ants an impenetrable barrier to entry. 

5. Be proactive about confronting swarms

A little suction goes a long way

Handheld vacuumCredit: Shutterstock / Leestudio

If all else has failed and flying ants have invaded your home, the good news is that they are way more interested in mating than stinging you.  

Got a vacuum cleaner to hand? Use it to suck up any flying ants and take the bag outside to be emptied immediately. 

If the swarm is truly out of control and you feel you have to resort to harsher measures, try pesticide spray. 

Not into chemicals and prefer to use what’s on hand? Mix two parts water with one part washing-up liquid and then add a few drops of peppermint oil in a spray bottle. The oil suffocates flying ants and the soap dehydrates them.  

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6. Attack the ants at the source

Eliminate their colony

Flying ant colonyCredit: Shutterstock / santoelia

All creatures have a role to play in the circle of life. Wherever possible we would prefer not to harm them. However, if you have a particularly destructive flying ant nest on your property, dealing with the potential swarm at the source is an option.

The best plan of attack will keep your garden intact without causing damage. But you will need to completely wipe out the nest to halt their breeding.

Pay attention and see if you can work out where their colony is. Once you have discovered its location you can set a borax trap. Mix your bait using a sweet substance like honey or agave with borax. Place it as close as possible to where you think the nest is.

The flying ants will collect the mixture and take it back to the colony, where it will disrupt their reproductive cycle.

Not sure where the colony is located? Insecticidal dust can be introduced to the colony but to work, all tunnels would need to be located as well. This is best left to a professional.

Andreev advises that when dealing with a larger flying ant infestation, while homemade baits and traps can be effective, It’s important to use baits with caution, especially if you have children or pets. 

7. Know when to call in a professional

Nipping it in the bud may save stress

ExterminatorCredit: Shutterstock / hedgehog94

Flying ants in or around your property could signal the formation of a new colony. The more flying ants you notice, the closer the colony is likely to be.  

In the case of winged carpenter ants the infestation may quickly grow, especially if you’re struggling to pinpoint the location of the ants’ nest to treat it with chemicals or baits. 

And when a serious carpenter flying ant infestation is suspected, any delay in calling the professionals may be costly. 

Bringing in a professional to deal with the infestation may also limit your chances of a reoccurring infestation. 

Andreev advises: ‘If you notice a swarm of flying ants inside your home, there may be an ant colony inside your wall voids or nearby on your property. This is not a common situation; however, it happens and can be dealt with by baits and traps.  

“Whenever you’re dealing with a persistent or extensive flying ant infestation, you may wish to consider hiring a pest control professional he advises, “Identifying the source of the infestation and implementing effective treatment strategies requires experts with the right knowledge, tools, and experience. A professional exterminator can provide targeted solutions to completely eliminate them.”

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Written by Joy Archer she/her

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