Where Do Ants Go When It Rains (Follow Their Tracks)

Ants are fascinating little creatures. They may be small but are incredibly crafty and evolved to survive and thrive in different environments. In fact, rain, no matter how heavy, doesn't pose much of a threat to ants.

These social insects are equipped with special features that protect them from rainwater damage. Even better, ants work together in highly organized societies (colonies) to find solutions to problems like rainwater. They have devised various survival strategies and tactics to avoid getting wet and stay alive during rainy seasons.

So, where do ants go when it rains? Continue reading to find out.

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What Happens to Ants When It Rains?

Ants are pretty resilient, and it seems like they can survive even in the most hostile locations and environments. These survivors have worked out ways to help them outlast the worst environmental disasters like rain and drought. They have well-developed sensory systems that can, in theory, help them predict impending rain and respond by adopting different behaviors.

For instance, people who study ants have noticed that when ants sense rain, they respond by building their nests higher or using different building materials. Others have observed that ant colonies store more food and close their nest before the rain arrives.

It's important to note that currently, there is no scientific evidence to support that ants can predict rain. But according to specialists, ants have learned the tell-tale signs that a rainy season is coming, for instance, shorter days and drastic temperature changes.

Ants have mastered astonishing ways to survive the rain. Some species dig their nests deep down into the soil to protect themselves and their eggs from heavy rains and flooding. Others will pick up their eggs and other immature ants and climb high up on trees to nest in a safe place and avoid water damage.

While some ants can climb trees and others crawl into very deep nests, some species only build shallow nests and can't climb trees. For these species, the safest thing to do is simply make an escape - they can hide under a rock or move into your home.

How Do Ants Survive Rain? Do Ants Die in The Rain?

Sometimes, ants get caught up in the rain even before they can find a safe shelter. But they still stand a chance to see the sunny days ahead. Luckily for them, they have evolved defense mechanisms to avoid the risk of flooding.

To begin with, ants build durable nests that can resist various invaders, including rain. The nests are built with a unique type of dirt that absorbs water and dries quickly. Ant nests have intricate tunnels that allow water to pass through without pooling. 

With innovative architecture, ants use tunnels to trap air in various chambers within the nest. And because entrances to these chambers come from below, water cannot penetrate. In case of flooding, ants rapidly relocate their eggs and young ones to the dry chambers until the waters recede.

Secondly, some ants can close off their breathing holes (spiracles) and hold their breath to survive a flooded nest. A good example is the big-headed coastal brown ants, who, when completely submerged in cool water, were able to survive for 8-9 days.

Mangrove ants send their soldiers to block the nest entrance by plugging up their large heads into the opening. This stops water from entering the nest, effectively preventing flooding. However, it is only a temporary solution as it blocks gas exchange with the surrounding areas.

Bamboo ants are pretty interesting when it comes to defending their nests against rainwater. Once it starts to pour, bamboo workers run back into the nest and drink as much of the rainwater as they can. They then run outside and collectively pee, a process called 'communal peeing.'

Last but not least, pheidole ants are another entertaining ant species yet. A few raindrops drive worker ants of these species crazy. They run around wildly, alerting other colony members of the oncoming danger. Together, they rapidly evacuate the nest, taking their young ones, eggs, and queen to a safe, dry place.

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How Do Ant Hills (Mounds) Survive Rain?

Ants are skilled architects. These social insects work together as a team, which is why they are able to build anthills that survive the rain. In fact, anthills are ants' most crucial line of defense. As mentioned above, nests and anthills are usually built with a particular type of dirt or sand that absorbs moisture and dries fast. The soil also causes water to bead and run off the side, keeping ants well protected during the rainy season.

On top of that, anthills are usually built in a shape designed to drain off the water effectively. They typically have a cone shape that lets water flow down the sides of the anthill instead of being collected at the top and flowing into the ant hill. This way, ants can stay safe in their nests throughout the rainy season.

Ant nests are typically built underneath the ant hill. They contain a complex network of tunnels and chambers that act like storm drains, allowing rainwater to pass through the nest without pooling. Ants also have another line of defense should the downpour be heavy.

While rain may penetrate the first few chambers, the anthill catches and dams up most of the water, preventing it from reaching the chambers below. The tunnels also have air pockets that help keep the various chamber within the nests dry.

Okay, So Where Do Ants Go When It Rains?

The answer to the question, 'where do ants go when it rains?' is not as straightforward as you might have wished.

When it rains, the ground gets very wet and slippery, making it hard for small insects to move outside. They stay in their nests where it's dry until the weather has cleared up enough for them to move outside again.

Sometimes ant tunnels can fill up with water, forcing the little bugs to seek shelter in a dry and safe place. Unfortunately, our homes are prime locations for ants to invade during the rainy season. Ants can use their strong ability to smell when finding a place to seek shelter. They can also use visual cues for navigation. 

Once inside your home, ants use a pheromone signal to communicate to the other colony members and guide them into your home.

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