Some local residents are reporting swarms of flying ants, especially at dusk.
It seems, ants do grow wings at times in their life cycles, and fly around to found new colonies.
"There are times when the colonies in the ground get really crowded, and the rainy season kicks in, and the next generation of ants and termites will grow wings and fly away. Sort of like college kids being kicked out of the nest!," said Doug Caldwell, entomologist at the Univ. of Florida research station in Collier County. "It is happening late this year, probably because of a cold winter and a dry springtime. And it seems to be happening in swarms this year, so people are noticing the flying ants."
Kyle Yarkosky has noticed them, in his neighborhood at the Waterway community in Collier. "I see the swarms at night, it seems they are looking for lights. They will land on your arm, and you look down and see this big ant with wings!," he told WINK News. "It is sort of weird, but I just want to get rid of them."
Caldwell says homeowners should turn off lights at night, to discourage the swarms of ants. He adds: if they get into a home, they can set up a colony and do some damage over time.
Caldwell also is tracking an aggressive new species of ant that is showing up in SW Florida. It's the Carribean Crazy Ant -- so called because it tends to walk erratically. The species lives above ground, and they travel in packs of thousands, often covering the ground and getting stuck in doorways or on plants. The crazy ants even drive out fire ants, which would seem to be good. But Caldwell says the crazy ants are so aggressive and numerous, you can't sit outside. The ants will crawl right up your legs. "If this species gets a stronghold in this area, it's going to a cause a lot of trouble. They are a real nuisance ant. They already are creating all kinds of problems in the Houston, Texas area," Caldwell told WINK.
He said the swarms of flying ants will dissipate in a week or two. The males will find mates, drop their wings, and found new colonies.