Where Do Ants Go When It Rains? How Ants Really Survive the Rain

Ants are small, but they’re hardy. Anything normal for us like bread crumbs and marbles are massive to them. So you can only imagine how the rain is for them, giant circular pools of water bombing them from the sky. But how do they survive this? Where do ants go when it rains?

where do ants go when it rains

Ants are hardy little insects that can survive a lot of weather conditions, including the rain. CC image courtesy of L Church on Flickr

Their nest is a stronghold

The most obvious answer would be their anthill. The humble ant’s nest is a fortress built prepared with several defenses for invaders, including rain water.

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The first line of defense that you see is their mound or hill. According to A Moment of Science, it’s built from sandy or a type of quick-drying and well-drained soil that absorbs moisture. The upside-down cone shape makes the water run to the sides instead of being collected at the top.

Ants also have a complicated system of tunnels that when water does enter their mound, there are things set up to prevent a huge flood. First, the layout of the tunnels, alone, stops the water a few inches underground. It doesn’t reach all the chambers because a lot of those tunnels are built to drain the water out. Second, ants keep air pockets or bubbles inside chambers so water can’t get inside.

Some ant species even have an alarm system within their peers. When minor workers catch the first sign of rain, they dart back to their tunnels to warn the colony. They leave specific scent trails that signal the other ants to brace for the rain or to follow them down safe tunnels.

They stay put

If an ant is out foraging or say inside your house when the rain pours, it stays there while trying to perform its duties looking for food. And when they are out in the yard, they don’t drown that easily. Ants are stronger than they look. When a raindrop hits them, they can survive it and scurry off somewhere with a roof.

They get on ant rafts

When all else fails, ants make a run for it – or float, to be precise.

Species like the fire ants can coordinate to make a living raft out of themselves. They cling together to make a large floating ant-boat. The workers connect themselves using their mandibles and limbs, and they carry their larvae and the queen on top to save them.

The raft then drifts on until the water recedes or when the insects find themselves a dry space. Most of the workers die after this desperate maneuver.

Here’s a video from Nat Geo WILd that shows how creative ants can be when trying to survive the rain.

In general, ants don’t die that easily.

Rainwater, no matter how big they are, does not deter them from invading your house and your yard. So now that we know the answer to the question; “Where do ants go when it rains?” We can safely say that the only way to get rid of these hardy insects are proven ant treatments.

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  • January 7, 2017
  • Ants