Ants have been around for millions of years, yet their behavior remains as fascinating as ever.
We know they’re social creatures that live in colonies, gather food, protect their nest, and care for their young.
However, why do ants swarm on the sidewalk? What purpose does this serve to their basic survival needs? Does it affect your safety or the safety of your property? If it does, how can you deal with it?
Keep reading to find the answers to all your queries about ants swarming on the sidewalk.
There are plenty of reasons why ants may swarm on the sidewalk. They include following food scents, water sources, and warmth.
While it’s a common behavior among ants, it can be puzzling. Not to mention, it can become a nuisance, especially if they invade your garden—or worse—your home.
Ants swarm for various reasons, including:
Ants swarm on the sidewalks when following food scents or searching for water sources. A swarm of ants can collectively find the shortest, easiest path to the best food source and coordinate foraging efforts.
When ants swarm for food, they’re following a sugary or greasy substance. These include food scraps or spilled soda.
Ants swarm on the sidewalks when they’re seeking warmth. During cold months, you may find ants grouping on a sidewalk to bask in the sun and regulate their body temperature.
Ants are cold-blooded and need warmth to maintain their metabolism and perform daily tasks—which they have a lot of!
Another reason ants swarm on the sidewalk is when they’re looking for a suitable place to nest. Some ants form colonies near sidewalks because they provide a stable environment with easy access to food and water.
Swarming ants may be searching for a location to establish a new colony or expand their existing one.
When female ants are ready to mate, they may swarm on the sidewalk to look for compatible males to breed with.
Additionally, queen ants don’t mate with the males of their colonies. Instead, they search for winged males from other colonies. For that reason, they must leave their nests.
When they do that, they pick good weather conditions, which is typically the springtime or early summer.
However, these encounters can have the opposite effect and lead to fights, after which the ants completely disappear. This brings us to the next reason: protection.
If an ant colony is nesting near a sidewalk, it can swarm around it to protect it from predators or other threats.
When a predator approaches, ants swarm to attack in massive groups to defend their territory.
Not to mention, their swarming makes them look intimidating, which deters predators and makes them think twice before attacking.
Ants engage in these battles especially more often during springtime. These battles can result in the dismemberment and crushing of abdomens in a ruthless war.
This is when ants are scavenging to stock up on food or to expand their colonies. Consequently, they’re more likely to meet and clash with other clans going out and about for the same purpose.
During rainy weather, rainwater can seep deep into the nests of ants, causing floods.
Since ants can’t survive without a nest for extended periods, this loss of habitat has drastic effects.
The ants start floating until they find a dry place. Yet, not all of them can survive floating on the water, and soon die.
That’s why ants may swarm on your garden’s sidewalk. They seek soil to secure an area that’s higher than the ground, which keeps them safe from floods during rainy weather.
It also helps them hide inside small concrete holes to escape the flooding inside their nests.
There are several methods to get rid of ants on the sidewalk, including natural remedies, chemical treatments, or—worst-case scenario seeking professional services.
You can use one of many natural methods to get rid of ants, including:
- Sprinkling cinnamon, vinegar, or black pepper along the ant trail. Since ants hate the smell of these spices, they’ll avoid them.
- Placing cucumber slices or citrus peels along the ant trail. Their smell puts off ants and makes them avoid the area in which you place them.
In some extreme cases, you might need to exterminate the ants, which will require you to do the following:
- Pouring boiling water directly on the ant mound. Keep repeating this process until the ants are gone.
- Using diatomaceous earth. Sprinkling some of the powder along the trail dehydrates the ants and kills them.
If natural methods don’t work, you can opt for chemical treatments to get rid of ants. Make sure to read and follow the instructions on the product level carefully.
Additionally, keep children and pets away from the area that you’re treating until it’s safe.
Chemical treatments include:
These are pre-filled with pesticides and are the most convenient option. Simply placing them on the ant trail exterminates them.
Sprays are effective and quick. All you have to do is spray the ants directly or spray along their trail.
You can spread granules along the ant trail. Then, the granules release a slow-acting poison that the ants carry back to their colony.
If all else fails, you might want to resort to professional services to help you get rid of colonies or swarming ants on the sidewalk.
When ants swarm, they can be fighting and scavenging for food or they can be an ant colony.
To tell the difference, look for a cone-shaped mound of soil. If you find one, it’s most likely that what you’re looking at is the nest.
Ants usually build their colonies under cracks in the concrete and sidewalks or under logs and rocks.
To dig the tunnels that allow them to have room for their colonies, they push the dirt up to the top. As a result, a sandhill shape forms on top of the nest.
Since they’re small and hard to detect, sidewalk ants typically invade homes by going through tiny cracks that you can find below spaces under the siding or around windows and doors.
If you have a sliding door, you may want to pay more attention, as this is one of the most common points where ants invade homes.
If they do, ants can set up colonies under the floors, in masonry, woodwork, or insulation. And while they won’t destroy any of these areas, they’ll soon become an inconvenience if large numbers live in your home.
While sidewalk ants aren’t typically aggressive, they might bite or sting you if they come in contact.
That’s because they see you as a threat or a predator. However, their stings are too weak to cause any harm.
Yet, they might cause rashes or allergic reactions, especially for those who have sensitive skin.
Ants don’t directly carry pathogens the way that ticks or mosquitos do. However, they can spread illnesses through food that they carry on their feet.
Ants can walk on rotting food, which isn’t hygienic. Still, common house flies, mice, and rodents carry a much higher risk of carrying these illnesses than ants.
While ants are an important part of any ecosystem, sometimes their overcrowding can form a real threat to your property.
There are plenty of reasons they may engage in this behavior, including nesting, looking for food and water, or protecting their territory.
Make sure that you’ve exhausted your benevolent methods like spices, fruits, and vegetables to deter ants before you resort to chemical treatments and extermination.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.