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Random Ant Facts: Can Carpenter Ants Swim?

You’d think it’d be the perfect solution to finally get rid of ants.

Surely those little pests couldn’t survive a torrential downpour of water, their inability to swim sending them to their watery graves, right?

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Hold on there. Before you go all The Day After Tomorrow on your ant problem, you should probably be aware that some ants can swim. Unlike many household insect pests that have no chance of surviving if they fall into water, those rigid little ant legs keep them from drowning, easily evading your Poseidon impression.

Case in point: dreaded carpenter ants. They do swimmingly (yes, we went there) surviving unexpected trips to the lake, or puddles, as we call them, without missing a beat.

Carpenter Ants: Fight or… Float.

There’s been recent studies on the Camponotus pennsylvanicus and its ability to swim, particularly how they excel where other insects – including other ant species – would perish.

One particular study focused on the carpenter ants ‘fight or flight’ reaction to falling into water, and discovered these ants in water use their vision to map out an escape from the depths. With unimpeded vision, the ants used in the field test all found their way to the edge, escaping the water unscathed. Ants that had impaired vision weren’t successful in their breakout.

They learned that carpenter ants can survive any unexpected slips into water – similar to how you’d ambush them with a bucket when getting rid of ants – meaning it’s an ineffective way to kill ants. Although the study focused on ants swimming for survival, carpenter ants don’t mind risking the waves for a greater purpose (usually food).

You can see a great example of carpenter ants doing their swim thing here:

The carpenter ants are employing all six legs in an ungraceful breaststroke to seize mosquito pupae as food. These ants are confined to a pitcher plant here, but ants that live near water are quite strong swimmers.

Building Ant Rafts.

Not only are many species of ants efficient builders, but they make for good building materials, too.

While species such as carpenter ants can swim, others can actually build rafts – using themselves, and other nearby ant friends – to save them from floods or rising water levels. This particular class of ant isn’t anywhere in Canada (so you can stop sweating about your outdoor pool), found amongst floodplains in central and southern Europe.

The research was spearheaded and documented by the University of California. You can see the ants’ handiwork as they group together to become one, makeshift raft:

They went on to note that the key members of the colony are on the top of the raft, while the lowly peasant (worker) ants make the base, or the part in the water. And if the need for survival calls for it, they can maintain the raft, floating around for weeks. Even ants have a social hierarchy!

So if you’re looking for a natural solution to get rid of your ant problem, think twice before using H2O, especially if you’re dealing with those aquatic carpenter ants. Not only can they survive, but can adapt and flourish living on or near the water.

Not sure how to deal with carpenter ants, now that your diabolical drowning scheme has been washed away? Magical Pest’s specialized Ant Removal Division offers solutions that are effective and efficient to kill ants, and get them out of your house for good. Call us today at 905-738-6676.

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