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Where Do Ants Go In the Winter (Do they migrate/hibernate?)

Ants are one of the first insects to disappear during the cold winter months. 

It’s likely that, where you live, ants have already started their downward journey into underground tunnels where they will spend their time hibernating until spring arrives. 

If your ant population is still active in early December, then it’s possible that these are members of a different species or genus which do not follow this pattern. 

5 Things You Didn't Know About Ants x
5 Things You Didn't Know About Ants

But if you see any ants out and about on a warm day in January or February, don’t worry – they’re most likely just foraging for food!

Ants Winter Preparations

During the winter, ants go through a variety of different activities to ensure their survival [1]. In the month leading up to winter, where do ants go in the winter?

ants collecting foods

Ants prepare for hibernation by collecting food and water from nearby sources such as plants or other insects then storing it at their winter home. 

Some species also store extra fat within their abdomen so they have more energy when going into hibernation 

Ants locate areas below ground where the temperature is consistent with what is needed. It’s important that this area is free of water, since most ant species are not able to survive flooding during the water.

Ants survive where other animals cannot by staying where it is warm enough for them to disappear over winter, but cold enough that their predators won’t stay during the winter. During the day, temperatures may rise above freezing, however, they must return underground before evening falls or risk death.

Ants Hibernating in Homes

Did you know that ants may be hibernating inside your house as we speak? 

ant hybernating

If the weather has been particularly cold where you live, and if it’s getting too chilly for your liking, then maybe it’s time to figure out where those pesky little insects are! 

When winter approaches and the temperature drops drastically outside (below freezing point), some species of ants will find a warm place to hide.

And unluckily for us, they may choose our homes! 

Ants enter structures through cracks or any tiny hole found in basements or low window sills during autumn months. They travel down into foundations where temperatures remain fairly stable throughout the wintertime. 

A common area where most types of ant go is under concrete slabs where insulation between flooring does not exist.

This is where ants go in the winter. Some say that they may even be hibernating where you eat, so it’s important to check for them! 

Once these little insects find a location where conditions suit them best (usually indoors), they stop traveling and settle down in one place until spring returns again.

During this time, all activity ceases as ants enter into low-activity mode where activity slows way down to avoid wasting energy. The won’t go completely to sleep, like some other animals.

Also read: Do ants sleep?

Other Ants Hibernation Areas

There are certain types of ants that hibernate in different ways [2]

queen ant laying eggs together with ant workers

Fire ants, for example, build large mounds where the queen and other members live inside during wintertime.

These types of ant nests can sometimes be found on fire hydrants or lawns where they make their homes, so it is best to contact pest control if you find one near your home as these ants tend to bite humans when threatened!

Ants that don’t hibernate at all include Argentine Ants which invade warm areas from colder ones where they come from during the fall season because those warmer regions become inhabitable due to climate change. 

Instead of going into an actual hibernation state where no activity takes place as insects do, Argentine Ant colonies just move where the warmth is.

Ants that form a winter home or hibernation area are usually species that live in colder climates where they have to survive through harsh conditions where food and water supply may not be readily available. Hibernating ants will typically return to their nest during warm seasons, so it’s best not to disturb them if you find one near your house!

Ants After the Winter

The question of where ants go after winter is a common question.

black garden ant

You’ll usually be able to spot them in their winter home, or while traveling from their nest to a new location, where they’ll be able to spend the spring, summer, and autumn.

If you want to locate any traveling ants, you can usually spot them at places where the temperature will be a bit more stable. This can be in your potted plants, in your home, or simply in the ground near any heat source.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Ants Die in Cold Weather?

Some species of ants will die in cold weather. For example, the pharaoh ant is an invasive pest that lives indoors and outdoors where it can be found nesting near heaters, fireplaces, or other sources of warmth. This species cannot survive temperatures below -16°C (-28 °F) for more than a few hours at a time.

In comparison with many insects though, ants have a much higher supercooling ability which allows them to tolerate lower freezing points.

How to Find Ants in the Winter?

A lot of people are curious about where ants go in the winter. Do they survive? Or, do all ants die off during the cold season like other insects and animals?

Well, the good news is that some species of ant can actually hibernate or enter into dormancy to wait out harsh weather conditions!

Do Ants Hibernate?

Yes, most ants hibernate during the colder months of the year. Ants will go into hibernation mode, slowing down their activities. They will also burrow deeper into the ground, or find somewhere else warm to stay.

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.