Find out why some ants fly and why they do
The majority of insects have wings in their adult stage and move around mainly by flying. However insects like cockroaches, have wings but are reluctant flyers and mainly use crawling as a form of transportation. Termites and ants are flyers, but only for a brief time in their reproductive stages during their breeding season.
The flying insects described on this page reflect those referred to as pests.
Most insects go through a life cycle that consist four stages: egg, larva (eg caterpillar, maggot — which can be crawling insect pests), pupa (often sealed in a cocoon) and adult, which usually has wings.
Insects have an exoskeleton with a three-part body, consisting of a head, a thorax with six legs, and an abdomen.
Flying insects come equipped with either one to two sets of wings which are attached to their thorax.
Discover the different types of stored product insects that can fly
Flying insects can be unwelcome in the human environment for a number of reasons:
Ants are generally more of a nuisance than a danger, though some species do bite and sting. Most species of ant swarm during a short breeding season, triggered by temperature rise in spring or rains.
The nest produces large numbers of winged male and female ‘reproductives’ that swarm to pair up and breed.
Bees are generally regarded as beneficial insects because of their role in pollinating food and horticultural crops. Unlike wasps and hornets they do not forage for human food, only visiting flowers for nectar and pollen. Female worker bees only sting as a defense mechanism and is triggered when they feel threatened.
When social bees build their nests near or in homes and other buildings, however, then they will need controlling. Africanised honey bees are more aggressive than the European strains so need very careful handling. Rentokil can provide a professional service to remove bee nests safely.
A bee sting is painful, especially for children, and in some cases produces a serious allergic reaction — the toxin is different from wasps. Bees also leave their stinger in the skin, so it will need to be removed.
House flies, blow flies and flesh flies visit sites contaminated with faeces and other filth to feed and breed, picking up organisms that cause disease and carrying it to food and surfaces in homes and businesses. They are both a nuisance and a health risk, which for businesses can mean economic and reputational loss and litigation.
Other species of fly, such as horse flies, and known for their biting habits, as well as midges and gnats. Biting flies generally stay near water or damp places. The highland midge is a nuisance in many rural areas across the northern hemisphere, producing an irritating bite. Blackflies, sandflies and horse flies, however, bite and can also transmit diseases.
Mosquito bites can produce itching, pain and swelling around the bite for several days. Generally it is the female mosquitoes which require a blood meal to survive, seeking animals and humans to feed on.
A relatively small number of mosquitoes also transmit pathogenic viruses, bacteria and parasites that can produce serious illness in humans such as malaria and dengue fever. These diseases mainly affect poor areas in developing countries or remote rural areas, but some such as Dengue are rapidly spreading worldwide in urban areas.
The larvae of several moth species feed on products of animal origin including wool, silk, animal hair, leather and feathers. They can damage products such as clothing, carpets, upholstered furniture and tapestries. They feed on the protein keratin that is found in animal products. The adult moths will fly to find new sites to lay their eggs.
Think you might have a flying insect problem? Get in contact with Rentokil today.
A wide variety of insect species can infest food from the field to the consumer in every stage of the process. They reduce the quantity of saleable goods, causing economic losses to farmers and businesses. This causes reputational damage by affecting the quality of goods. Flying insects that affect stored food include weevils and other beetles (which have thousands of species), moths and fermentation or drain flies.
Find out about how stored product insects can affect the food industry
Learn about the different species of stored product insects
Wasps are seen as a threat because of their painful stings, which some individuals are severely allergic to.
Wasps only sting to defend themselves. Wasps are aggressive and require very little disturbance to initiate an attack.
Wasps are actually beneficial for gardens and food crops, preying on many pest insects to feed their larvae.
When wasps build their nests near or in homes and other buildings they run the risk of disrupting the everyday occurance of humans by foraging for food around food preparation and eating places.