Subject: What is this?!
Location: Brooklyn Park, MN
August 21, 2014 5:30 pm
Please tell me what these are? There are thousands of them flying all over my yard!
How do I get rid of them?
Signature: Creeped out in MN
Our automated response:
Thank you for submitting your identification request.
Please understand that we have a very small staff that does this as a labor of love. We cannot answer all submissions (not by a long shot). But we’ll do the best we can!
So… does that mean that I should wait to get an answer or that you can’t answer my question? ?
Dear Creeped out in MN,
You received our automated response so that you would know that your inquiry arrived in our email box, and that response means exactly what it states, that: “We cannot answer all submissions (not by a long shot). But we’ll do the best we can!” We also cannot promise additional instant gratification beyond our automated response which should help to clarify the level of expectations that many people have with regards to the internet. You don’t have to wait to get a response from us. You can go about your daily life and perhaps even seek out other resources for providing the answers you seek. We actually hope that folks don’t sit by the computer or impatiently watch the screens of their portable communication devices since we get inquiries at all hours of the day from all parts of the world, and we do not staff our site 24 hours a day. We can never guarantee that we will be able to answer questions posed to us, and we have no certified authorities, meaning no actual entomologists with degrees who are on our small staff, however we frequently do have professionals who provide input, identifications and corrections for us.
With that stated, we will now attempt to the best of our ability to respond to your initial questions. This is a flying ant, commonly called an Alate, which is the reproductive component of an ant colony. There must be a nearby ant nest that resulting in this nuptial swarm that you witnessed. Alates, which are virgin queen and newly matured male ants, swarm and leave the colony when conditions are ideal, often on a sunny day following a rain. They mate and start new colonies. The swarm should only last a day or two, and if you never noticed the ant nest prior to the swarm, you will probably again return to a state of blissful ignorance to the natural world around you. Your individuals look very much like this image we found on FlickR that might be in the genus Lasius, and this account is given for the sighting: “Early September must have been the mating season for this ant species. Thousands of alate (wing-bearing) virgin queen and male ants were emerging from nest entrances, warming up their wings. They climbed up leaves, mounds of earth, stems, and branches before taking to the air in search of mates from another colony. The countless workers, wingless and small compared to the queens, did not stray far from the winged reproductives and were probably guarding them from predators that would regard the queen’s egg-filled abdomens as nutritious snacks.” Here is another image from Minnesota on BugGuide, where the genus is identified as Cornfield Ants or Citronella Ants. In response to your question “How do I get rid of them?”, we do not provide extermination advice.