Ants can be a year-round nuisance, not just limited to the warmer seasons. Even in regions where winters are mild and wet and you would think the ant season is over, ants can intrude into your home uninvited. In this post, we will explore how ants find their way into your house during winter, their activities within, and effective methods to eliminate them. Survival Strategy in Winter Contrary to common belief, ants do not perish with the changing seasons. Instead, they employ a survival tactic known as overwintering. This process involves seeking out a secure refuge to stay warm throughout the winter months. They achieve this by burrowing deep underground, sealing the entrances to their nests, and clustering together for warmth. Leading up to the winter season, ants become more active, intensifying their foraging efforts and accumulating reserves of fat to endure the cold months. This increased activity is why you might notice a surge in ant presence during September and October. As the chilly weather takes hold, their body temperatures drop, and their metabolic rate decreases, rendering them sluggish and lethargic. This signals the start of their hibernation period. When winter subsides and temperatures rise, the ants spring back into action. They reopen their tunnels, resume foraging, and return to being a nuisance for homeowners. Ants tend to avoid cold weather during the winter, but if you notice them indoors, it's likely due to a sudden temperature increase, temporarily rousing them from hibernation. However, the presence of ants inside your home in winter can signal a more significant issue. Why Are Ants in My House in Winter? Ants inside your home in winter likely means an ant colony has established itself within your home. Since homes are heated year-round, ants inside can remain active without the need to hibernate. Why Do Ants Come Indoors? Ants venture indoors in search of food, water, and shelter. Homes conveniently offer these resources, making them prime foraging spots. Ants are attracted to accessible food sources like crumbs, dirty dishes, spills, rubbish, or pet food. Additionally, household issues such as leaks and excessive moisture can attract ants, so broken pipes, damaged window frames, or leaky sinks may invite them indoors. Ants may choose indoor nesting if your home provides easier access to food, water, and shelter compared to your outdoor surroundings. Where Do Ants Nest Inside Homes? Ants prefer nesting in voids, and common indoor nesting locations include:
Within door or window frames
Inside or under foundation slabs
Inside cabinets, shelves, or cupboards
Within certain appliances and systems, such as air conditioning units like heat pumps
Ant Species That Nest in Homes During Winter While various ant species may nest in homes, some are more prone to invading indoors. The most common ant is the Black ant ( garden ant)
Black Ants: As their name suggests, these ants are extremely small, measuring just one-sixteenth of an inch in length. They can infiltrate various areas within a household, such as under carpets, inside walls, between bricks, within wooden structures, and even inside appliances and systems. When looking down on black ants, they will look like this..
2. Pharaoh Ants: They are yellow and brown in colour. They will move through you’re home, going from ground floor to second floor using pipes and wires to climb up into the property. These ants can form multiple queens in a super group containing in worst cases millions of ants. When you see these ants in you’re property, you are only seeing 5% of whats in you’re home. Normal ant treatments for pharaoh ants will not work. If you find these ants in you’re home, call us straight away. We have added a picture of Pharaoh ants below.
Winter Ant Control Methods: How to Eliminate Ants in Cold Weather
Dealing with ants inside your home can be a challenging task, particularly when they establish colonies deep within your walls or under your foundation. Using insecticides or bait traps indoors isn't recommended, especially if you have pets or young children. However, there are several steps you can take to eliminate ants during the winter months: Step 1: Clean Up Food and Rubbish The initial and crucial step in ant removal and prevention is eliminating their food sources. Ensure you clean up all trash, food debris, and cluttered areas in places infested by ants. If you spot ant activity in your kitchen, it's essential to wash dishes, clean kitchen counters. Using airtight, sealable containers for your food storage can also be helpful. Step 2: Create a Pet and Child-Safe Ant Killer Most commercial ant killers and insecticides may not be safe for pets or children, but there are DIY alternatives: Diatomaceous Earth: Sprinkle a light dusting of food-grade diatomaceous earth in areas where ants are frequent. This natural substance, derived from fossilized kelp, is lethal to insects but safe for pets and humans. It's effective for killing ants on the spot, though it may not eliminate an entire colony. Baking Soda and Sugar Bait: Mix equal parts baking soda and confectioner sugar and place it on a small dish or paper plate in locations frequented by ants but inaccessible to pets and children. While not strictly poisonous, baking soda can be harmful if ingested in large quantities by pets or kids. This bait may kill an entire colony, but it requires caution when you have pets or small children. For added safety, you can place this mixture in a water bottle, seal it with a cap, and poke holes in one side. Position the bottle horizontally with the holes facing up so that ants can access the mixture while making it harder for pets and children to get inside. Step 3: Seal Entry Points The final step in preventing and removing a winter ant infestation is identifying the entry points they used to infiltrate your home and sealing them. Ants often find their way indoors through small cracks in the foundation, gaps in siding, openings in window and door screens, window frame gaps, and holes around utility pipes. It's advisable to inspect the exterior of your home once a year, either in spring or fall, to identify these entry points and use silicone-based fillers to seal the gaps. Final Wintertime Ant Control Tips Although discovering ants inside your home during the winter can be unsettling, most ant species are not harmful to humans or structures. To address this issue, focus on removing their access to water and food sources. Thoroughly clean infested areas and identify sources of moisture, rectifying them. If ant problems persist, you can try homemade ant killers or pet-safe bait traps. If all else fails or if you experience year-round ant issues, you should give us a call here at Pest.ie