SPOKANE, Wash. - With the warm weather over the weekend, came the giant flying ants.
"Don't panic! We're not under attack," said Washington State University Master Gardner Tim Kohlhauff.
After several warm days in a row, the carpenter ants think it is summer, so they hatched all at once instead of gradually over time.
"They had a long cold winter and they are ready to get out and enjoy the warm weather the same as we are," Kohlhauff said.
Carpenter ants are on a mission right now to mate and find their queen a place to set up house. The ants are looking for trees or wood near soil to burrow into and usually nest in trees. However, unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat the wood. Instead, they hollow it out to make a nest.
"They will do a lot of damage to wood if they are left unchecked," said Spokane Falls Community College Professor Laurel Hansen.
Although the ones with wings are more noticeable, the work ants without the wings are the ones that can do the most damage. Therefore, the best way to stop them is to locate the nest.
"The way to find them is that you'll just see ants traveling back and forth and they kind of like to keep the same path," Kohlhauff said. "So you'll see them using the same path over and over and if you see that you can follow them right back to the nest."
If the ants are outside, you can just leave them alone. But if they are in the house, call a professional to get rid of them.
"One of the homes I'm going to has sawdust coming out of the ceiling," Hansen said. "They are dropping sawdust on the bed, so he [the homeowner] would like me to come out and make sure they are not in the ceiling."
According to experts, the flying ants will not be around for very long. Once the ants mate, they lose their wings. We also learned that, like anything, the ants will bite if they feel threatened. However, the ants usually go out of their way not to bite people.