According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, flying ants come from an established colony in the area where they have been observed. The fliers live there and only come out to fly when it is time to mate.
An ant colony is composed of several types of ants, including the wingless queen, worker ants and flying female and male ants. Once a colony is fully established, the flying ants leave in order to mate and start new outposts. After breeding, the males die and the females find new areas to set up new settlements. Few are successful. A female loses her wings at this point, and the unnecessary wing muscles become a source of nutrition for her.