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Why are there ants in winter in Portland?

You, like many, might be confused as to why you’re seeing ants in your home or business in the middle of winter. The fact of the matter is...it rarely gets very cold in Portland. With an average temperature in the mid 40s for this time of year, you, unfortunately, will not see ants fleeing into hibernation.

Ants are cold-blooded, meaning that their metabolism is tied to the temperature of their surroundings. By nature, ants prefer warm environments. So when temperatures drop outside, they often start coming indoors. Especially popular indoor spots for ants are near heaters and behind appliances that put off heat themselves.

What brings ants into my house?

sink with water

In addition to warmth, ants are always looking for food sources and moisture, all of which your home or business can provide to them. In the warm seasons, ants can forage for food outdoors without bothering you indoors (though we often find them there when it’s warm, too).

In the winter, these hungry pests have to be resourceful. And what is a good meal without something to drink? Ants are commonly found near leaks from the roof or near window trims and skylights, where they are receiving a steady supply of moisture. You may also see them near sinks where water is pooling.

Do ants hibernate in the winter?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question. Ants can enter a state similar to hibernation, called diapause, during which their metabolism slows and development stops. They will do this when temperatures drop too low, to preserve energy for when the temperature rises again. However, the way that most ants handle colder outdoor temperatures is just to head inside. A warm environment with access to food…what’s not to like?    

Ant Species that Enjoy the Indoors

If you’re seeing a large number of ants inside your property in the winter, it is likely that they have taken up residence in your walls in an effort to stay warm. Many ant species that like the indoors gravitate toward wall voids and other similar locations for warmth and protection. These are a few of the species that are commonly found indoors.

  • Argentine ants

    • These ants prefer sweet foods, so they might come looking for a snack in your kitchen.

    • Argentine ants like to build their nests in wall voids and insulation.

  • Carpenter ants

    • Carpenter ants don’t discriminate when it comes to food. They are attracted to sweet substances, fats, grease, and meat, so there’s a good chance they kind find something they like inside your home.

    • Often confused with termites, these ants love wood. You may find them in rafters, wall voids, crawl spaces, or other hollowed locations.

  • Pharaoh ants

    • Pharaoh ants are like bodybuilders. They love their protein!

    • Pharaoh ants tend to nest within cavities in heated buildings, especially in humid conditions. Check for them near water sources.

  • House ants

    • House ants love to scavenge through kitchens, particularly in garbage. Dog feces can also be an attractor.

  • Odorous House ants

    • These smelly ants can be found anywhere where there are food crumbs present.

    • They also like to nest in wall voids of houses and other buildings, especially if a termite has been there to compromise the wood first.

  • Crazy ants

    • Crazy ants, or Rasberry Ants, seek out greasy, fatty foods and sweets. If your kitchen is home to junk food, look out!

    • Like other species, these ants can be found in wall voids, but they also like carpets, potted plants, and even electronics!

Why do ants come in the house when it rains?

Ants inside house

The Northwest United States has a reputation for being quite rainy, and Portland fits in nicely. Bustle put Portland on their list of the most waterproof cities in the country.

According to The Oregonian, Portland got more rain in 2017 than in any of the previous years. Ants are attracted to sources of moisture, but too much water, like Portland has seen in the recent past, will send them running. Occasionally, heavy rainfall will flood ant nests, forcing them to find a new place to go. This new place is often your dry home.

How to Keep Ants Away in Portland

  • Wipe up spills on counters and floors

  • Sweep any crumbs that may be on the floor

  • Don’t leave pet food out overnight

  • Clean pet bowls to remove and residual food left behind after mealtime

  • Properly seal and store food items, including fruit (sorry, fruit bowls!)

  • Change garbage regularly

No matter the season, no one wants ants in their home or business. If you’re seeing ants, call the Portland pest specialists from Western Exterminator. Your ant problem will soon be a thing of the past.

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