Ants pests in the winter? Sounds like a fairy tale! Ants have an interesting life cycle and have always fascinated scientists and people alike. Let’s uncover the secrets behind ‘do ants hibernate in the winter?’
Ants go into hibernation mode and become dormant during the winter in order to conserve energy. This is especially important for colonies that live in cold climates. Scientists estimate that ants enter their winter state from mid-October to early January and may stay in this behavior until the first few days of spring when they awake.
Sounds fascinating? You’d be right to be excited.
In this article, I will explore the intricate lives of ants in winter, as well as a few ant facts that will make you rethink your perceptions of these fascinating creatures.
Do Ants Die In Cold Weather?
Ants do not die off in the winters because they use hibernation as a way to protect themselves from harsh weather conditions. You won’t see them in the winters because they are hibernating in their nest during the winter months.
Ants’ body temperatures adjust to the environment they are in. Workers and soldiers will alternate between high energy periods, or active agents of society, and low energy states when it is colder outside.
During the winter, ants need to shut down their living functions and protect themselves from cold temperatures by going into a state called hibernation.
A recent study says that ants can survive cold winters by reducing their metabolic rate, hence avoiding starvation or freezing in extreme temperatures.
When the weather gets really cold, ants have selective breeding cycles that increase their chances of keeping safe and warmer homes in harsh climatic conditions. They also ensure that mothers save enough energy for the baby’s birth and growth process by establishing strict varieties with high reproductive potential.
How long do ants hibernate? Ants are able to hibernate for at least 3 to 4 months. They have much food in hand to survive for a few months even in the coldest winters. The hibernation duration of ants is based on the climate, availability of food, and the amount of energy they have to spare to keep their bodies warm during the winter months.
Read more: Do Ants Come Out at Night?
Where Do Ants Go in the Winter?
There are many places where ants go in the winter. Some of these places include:
- Anthills: Ants build their nests in warm, dry areas and prefer to live near other ant colonies. When it starts to get cold outside, they will move their nests to sheltered areas or underground.
- Underground tunnels: Ants build elaborate underground tunnels during the winter to keep warm and protect their food stores from freezing.
- Small animal nests: If there are no trees or other large structures nearby, ants may build small animal nests in order to stay warm.
- Hollow trees: Tree bark, logs, and other natural enclosed areas. These natural hollow objects (trees) act to keep ant individuals warmer in cold weather.
The reason for moving the nest in winter is to avoid unfertilized eggs from freezing. The nests will become colder and warmer until new workers develop after spring. The queen ants huddle around their eggs guarding them against predators.
As the winter approaches, the ant activity will significantly increase as they have to prepare for the winter hibernation.
How Do Ants Prepare for Winter?
Ants will go to great lengths to ensure their survival during the winter. Here are a few of the most common ant’s wintering strategies as the autumn ends.
#1 Pile Up Wood
Ants will stack sticks of wood or other materials to form a meter-high pile close to the colony.
#2 Find Underground Tunnels
Larger ant species such as carpenter ants tend to use developed tunnels in the ground in order to survive colder temperatures by trapping body heat.
#3 Build Up Mud Inside the Nest
Ants may incorporate dirt and other types of material into their nests to keep them warmer in cold conditions.
#4 Conceal Food Stores
Ants may pack their nests with twigs and grasses fall leaves or even acorns that can last throughout winter.
#5 Block and Fill Entrance Tunnels With Dirt
Ants may pack these entrances in order to keep better track of their nest.
#6 Food Source for Survival
Ants will collect food from nearby trees and woodland areas during their winter season. They will store the food inside underground chambers in order to survive cold temperatures better.
Read more: Do Ants Sleep?
How Do Ants Awake in Spring?
As soon as the warm days come, the dormancy period of ants breaks, and they awake. They begin their search of food and water sources in early spring during which they prepare themselves for their mating season.
Ants will head off into the woods to look for edible plants or insects. Larger species of ant such as the black carpenter ants will find themselves hunting mice, crickets, or other insects which they butcher before eating them.
What Do Ants Eat in the Winter?
In the wintertime, ants usually eat:
- Dead bodies of other insects
- Their own dead bodies
- Leaves of plants
- Tree barks and flowers
What Is Ant Diapause And How Does It Change Ants’ Behaviour?
Ants undergo a process in winters called ant diapause, which alters their behavior and survivability. During ant diapause, their normal activities cease but they remain alive. This change in behavior is likely due to two factors: the decrease in food availability and changes in their environment.
Ants that undergo ant diapause are more likely to survive than those that don’t. As winter approaches, this change in behavior has the potential to affect ants closely with temperature drops. When ant diapause begins, the need for heat is no longer a concern since they are not active yet.
Before you confirm there is no infestation in your house, make sure that ants are not in the hibernation phase in a warm place.
For more pest control tips, read our posts below!
Read more: 9 Reasons Why Ants Are Present in Your Room