A carpenter ant with wings is a breeding adult on its way to breed or to establish a new colony. The males die shortly after mating, and the females, or queens, lose their wings once they start an ant colony. The worker ants are all wingless, sterile females.
Eggs for reproductive males and females are typically not laid until several years after the colony is established. Unlike normal egg laying, which occurs in the spring, the eggs of reproductive individuals are laid in August and September. The queens lay relatively few eggs after first establishing a colony, but lay larger batches in later seasons.