single file line of ants marching

Ants in the Winter? How to Keep Carpenter Ants Out of the House

September 24, 2020

Many home and business owners assume ant activity only occurs during the spring, summer and fall. However, our experts at Preferred Pest Control have seen high call volumes surrounding ants in the winter, specifically carpenter ants. While most ants are few and far between during the winter months, we’ve found that some homes do still have carpenter ant problems during this time of the year. It’s easy to understand the assumption that ants go away during the winter though, and it is our goal to educate home and business owners on where ants go to survive the cold weather and how you can avoid an infestation. From what attracts ants in the winter to how you can keep carpenter ants away, our experts reveal everything you need to know to protect your home or business.

Where Do Ants Go in the Winter?

Typically, ants will escape the cold by seeking shelter underground. The most common shelter areas include under rocks, deep in the soil, in tree trunks beneath layers of bark, and even under their own ant hills.

Carpenter ants, on the other hand, make themselves at home in warm, above ground cavities, such as the walls, ceilings, and floors of local homes. While they are in homes, they can cause thousands of dollars in damage and create hazardous living conditions for homeowners.

As they build their nests and settle, these ants destroy the wood, insulation, sheathing and all other materials surrounding the area being used for a nest. Carpenter ants are more attracted to wood that is perpetually wet or has decayed, and will generally seek out unused areas of a home. This is one reason it is important to perform regular maintenance on your home and fix leaks and plumbing problems as quickly as possible.

What Do Ants Do in the Winter?

Most species of ants consume an excess amount of food during the summer and fall months to store up fat, then they hibernate or go dormant when the weather gets cold. As the temperature drops during the winter, so do their body temperatures, making their movements very slow and sluggish. Most species of ants conserve energy, remain inactive and feed off the stored nutrients they consumed during the previous season.

can you get ants in the winter. 

To stay warm in their shelters, ants use heat from one another and crowd tightly around the queen. Ants in the winter will use each other to protect themselves and will even close up the exits of their nests and winter homes since they do not venture out of their shelter. They can then re-open the entrance as winter ends and the weather gets warmer, when it is safe for them to return to their normal lifestyle.

But, why do so many people see late winter ant infestations? Because not all ants react this way! Like their sheltering habits, carpenter ants have a very different winter lifestyle than their smaller relatives. Carpenter ants in the winter will actually remain active and continue to forage for food and nutrients. This is one reason homeowners discover infestations and significant property damage in the winter. Carpenter ants feed on dead insects and a variety of food products. They carve out walls and ceilings as their colony grows in size which can weaken the overall structure of a home.

What Attracts Ants in the Winter?

To successfully avoid carpenter ants in your house during the winter, our team at Preferred Pest Control wants to help you understand what factors attract these pests. When the weather gets colder, ants are looking to build a nest in a shelter that provides warmth and food for foraging. Since carpenter ants are in need of a place to locate their colony, these spots become the perfect place to hide.

Wood isn’t the only invitation into a home for these pests, and alone will not cause them to come swarming. There are a few other key factors that will attract carpenter ants to your house during the winter, including:

  • Moisture
  • Food
  • Shelter

How to Keep Carpenter Ants Away

There are a variety of potential entry points in a home to allow carpenter ants to enter. From small cracks to open doors or windows, we want to help you keep carpenter ants away during the winter. Carpenter ants are the largest ant species in Iowa. They often go unnoticed in the winter due their hibernation habits. Occasionally, on sunny winter days you may see some of them temporarily come out of hibernation and forage for food. To prevent a carpenter ant infestation in your home this winter, it is crucial that homeowners eliminate any potential entry points. You can implement the following practices to do so:

  • Seal small cracks or access points around the exterior
  • Fix broken or loose screens
  • Keep windows and doors tightly sealed
  • Check firewood before bringing it inside
  • Repair damaged or decaying wood around the house
  • Preferred Pest Control Can Help You Get Rid of Ants in the Winter

    We hope you’ve found our tips on how to keep carpenter ants away during the winter useful. If you discover a carpenter ant infestation or any signs of their presence in your home, please do not hesitate to contact our team of technicians today. At Preferred Pest Control, our expert technicians are highly-trained and have been serving the pest control needs of Iowans for nearly four decades. It is our mission to deliver you the finest pest control service for your home. Schedule an appointment online by filling out our form, or call us at (515) 415-5550.