There’s an old saying that rain falls on the rich and the poor alike. While this was written in the days before automobiles (and apparently umbrellas) rain does fall on large and small creatures. Even a minor rainstorm can be disastrous for ants. Most ant species live in shallow, underground nests. When the skies open up and the rain comes pouring down, these nests flood in a matter of minutes.
But ants have survived in the rain for millions of years and, like most other creatures, when the floods come they head for higher, drier ground – like your kitchen. Once the ants invade, they begin searching for food and, ironically, water. On their way into your house, they leave a scent trail that allows them to return to the nest after the sun comes out and dries up all the rain.
Rain affects individual ant species in different ways. Argentine ants are an invasive species found in many parts of the country. These critters thrive anywhere that has cool rainy winters and hot dry summers. If you live anywhere from Georgia west to California and Hawaii, you might find Argentine ants in your kitchen after a good, soaking rain.
Another invasive ant species, the fire ants, kick their nest building skills into high gear after a rainstorm. The stinging red ants clean up their mounded nests once the rain stops and the moist dirt is easier to work with. If you see a pile of soil in the middle of your lawn after a rainstorm, you better make plans to eliminate fire ants. These critters boil from their nests at the slightest provocation and deliver numerous painful stings to the unsuspecting people or pets who disturbed them.
Fortunately, ant research Jacob Holloway of the University of Georgia has been studying the millions of little ants that move into houses during rainy weather. Holloway has experimented with natural repellents such as rosemary and spearmint to kill ants. “Everything I tested didn’t work, unfortunately.” But chemical gels and ant baits, “particularly the Combat line, do work,” said Holloway and UGA entomologist Dan Suiter. Rain or shine, ants want to dine in your kitchen and if you want to gain the upper hand, let the rain wash them away while you stay inside toasty and dry.