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Ants vs. Rain: Where Do Ants Go When It Rains?

Ants are extremely adaptable to new environments, habitats, and general conditions. But when it rains, where do ants go? 

Some people believe that ants are alerted of coming rainstorms by their incredible smell – that they can literally smell rain. If this is true, they can prepare ahead of time.

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

In this article, we’ll talk more about where ants go when it’s raining, and how they make sure not to get swept away.

Where Do Ants Go When It Rains?

When it rains, where do ants go? Ants usually hide in their nests when they sense rain. When the ground gets wet and slippery, this makes it harder for them to move outside so they stay inside where it’s dry instead. 

If you see an ant outside after rainfall has stopped, it means the weather has cleared up enough for the small bugs to move around outside again.

How Do Ants Survive Rain?

It’s important to understand how ants act and survive rain in order to keep them away from your home when they invade during rainfall periods.

ant egg carried by multiple worker ants

They’ll, as said, usually crawl deep into their nests, but sometimes (if it’s rough enough), they’ll rather try and find shelter. Sometimes this can be a tree, sometimes it can be your home.

Now, if they don’t have enough time to get to shelter, they do have a defense mechanism against drowning in the rain. They can actually close off their breathing holes (called spiracles).

How Do Ants Not Drown?

Ants look for a high ground where the water won’t touch them. They prefer to be on leaves and rocks where they can run away from any puddles that may form. 

If ants are trapped in deep water, they will hold their breath until it is safe. They do this by closing off their spiracles. They can survive quite a long time like this. Fire ants (Solenopsis Invicta) can even turn themselves into a self-made raft to float on the water.

alone black ant on plant leaves

Another option for them is to find an escape route to get out of the water as fast as possible.

When you see ants in your house when it’s raining, it’s because they are looking for high ground where the water won’t touch them. 

If it doesn’t rain a lot, ants will welcome the moisture. After all, they need to stay hydrated. Read more about how long ants can live without water here.

What Happens to the Ant’s Nest When It Rains?

When ants sense rain coming there are some things they do to protect their home. This is not always possible though.

This is why ants sometimes come out during the rainfall.

If it rains too much their nests will be flooded which will drive the ants out of their home.

Many species gather together on a basis slightly above where they live so that if more water pours in they won’t be swept away.

Ants Can Turn Themselves Into a Raft

If you ever see a big moving blob in a puddle during a rainstorm, it might be ants. As mentioned earlier, they can turn themselves into a living raft. 

Since they’re so light, spreading out over a larger area, while sticking together, makes them easily float. And they won’t drown, since they’re closing their breathing holes.

Ants Can Sense When a Rain Is Coming

A lot of people believe that ants can sense when rain is coming, while others claim that this is a myth [1]

The theory states that ants are equipped with enough sensory cells to help them feel the humidity in the air. If they detect that the humidity is rising significantly, they’ll start seeking shelter.

Other experts claim, that this is a myth. That the only correlation is ants’ behavior after rainfall, not before.

How Ants Respond to Rain

There are several different responses that ants will have to rain. Some ants will go where there is dry soil or where they can find shelter, some ants may build their own shelters, and others might even dig underground tunnels where it’s safe until the rain stops. 

When an ant senses a drop of water landing on its body, like rain or a puddle, it will immediately run to where there is dry soil. If the ants are on a tree branch and it starts raining, they may climb down where it’s not wet out of fear that their body might be crushed from the weight of the raindrop.

Why Do Ants Come Inside Your House When It Rains?

Ants come inside your house when it rains because it’s dry and safe. We do the same thing, if it rains, we seek shelter.

Since most ant nests are underground tunnels, water will start to fill up the tunnels. If the ants’ home is filled with water, they’ll get forced to find another place to go.

Ants can use their smell to find a place to go. Ants also use visual cues, such as topography near a home where there is light. Then they’ll let the rest of the colony know and start the march.

ant trails

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Ants Not Drown?

Ants don’t drown because of the way their spiracles work. Spiracles are small holes on the outside of the ants’ bodies. These are used for breathing. One of the many incredible mechanisms ants possess, is the ability to close these off. This way, they can avoid letting water into their spiracles, hence avoiding drowning.

Other than that, they work very quickly. They can quickly find shelter, either in your house, in a tree, or on top of other tall places that are safe from the rain.

Why Do Ants Go Crazy Before Rain?

Ants are very intelligent creatures. Some people claim that ants can sense rain, that they can smell it before it comes. Ant antennae can also detect tiny changes in temperature, which could help them sense rainfall. They may seem like they’re crazy before the rain, but there is actually some science behind the madness. What may seem like crazy behavior, could just be ants rushing to get to shelter. 

Do Ants Die in the Rain?

Ants can die in the rain, but they’re very adaptable and do indeed have to ability to survive in rain. They can close their spiracles (breathing holes), which helps them avoid drowning. Some ants also have the ability to make rafts. They make this raft with their own bodies, stacking on top of one another.

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.