How Long Can Ants Survive In Water? The Truth About Flooding Ant Hills

By Horizon Pest Control

If you’ve ever had a recurring anthill issue in your backyard, you’ve probably considered grabbing the garden hose and seeing if you could douse the problem away. While that might seem like a good idea in theory, ants are much more resilient against water than most people realize.

How Ants Survive Floods (and Attacks from Garden Hoses)

When you’re an ant, even a small amount of water can be considered a flood. Fortunately for these insects, they can swim—sort of. While none can compete with the grace of Michael Phelps, ants can kick and “dog paddle” their way to safety. Some species, like fire ants, will survive by linking together to form a giant raft.

Additionally, ants can recover even after being submerged in water. The length of time an ant can survive underwater depends on the type of ant. However, most ants can survive underwater for up to 24 hours. Others can survive up to 14 days!

How is this possible? As insects, ants don’t breathe the same way that humans and other mammals do. In fact, ants are so small that they don’t have room for lungs. Instead, they breathe through spiracles, which are holes on the sides of their bodies.

Tubes in the ant’s body connect the spiracles to each other. Those tubes distribute oxygen to the ant’s cells and allow carbon dioxide to leave the ant’s body. To keep from drowning, an ant will close its spiracles so that water won’t enter the tubes, “holding its breath,” in a sense. During this time, an ant might appear to be dead, but it can open up its spiracles and start “breathing” again if it dries off.

Is Water an Effective Ant Control Method?

The short answer is “no.” Whether you use hot or cold water, many of the ants will most likely survive and simply relocate to another area on your property. Ant colonies can be much more extensive than they appear on the surface, so any number of ants that you do manage to kill will most likely be inconsequential.

Furthermore, excess moisture and swampy conditions can end up attracting more pests to your yard, such as mosquitoes. Bottom line: when your property is infested with ants, you’re most likely to get a long-term solution by working with a pest control professional.

To eliminate ants for good, contact Horizon Pest Control for ant exterminators in New Jersey and New York: (201) 447-2530.

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