Ants swarm on sidewalks during the spring and summer. While some ants are known as pavement ants, others settle there for different reasons. Contrary to what it might seem like, the pavement is an excellent place for food, water, and shelter. Ants swarm these locations, but why do they stick to the same spots?
Ants swarm on sidewalks when following food scents, water sources, and warmth. They also fight for territory, look for mates, and swarm predators on sidewalks and the surrounding soil. Some ants form colonies near sidewalks, which would be another reason they’re always gathered.
Throughout this post, you’ll learn several reasons why ants swarm sidewalks and why it’s a vital part of their lifestyle.
Ants Follow Food Scents
Perhaps the most common reason ants invade anywhere around your home and yard is because they’re looking for food. Ants are notorious for swarming food crumbs and spills. According to Combat Bugs, all ants are capable of following a scent trail to their closest food sources.
Here’s a quick list of food ants can find near pavement:
- Dead animals and bugs
- Predators that turn to prey
- Spilled drinks
- Food crumbs from barbecues
- Garbage dropped around the pavement
If you’re worried about the ants on and around your pavement, make sure you look around for these potential food sources. Removing the food source is often enough to relocate the ant swarm and keep them away from the pavement. If there’s no food in the area, consider the probable causes below.
They Might Be Looking for Water
Ants look for water sources throughout the year. However, they’re especially thirsty during the warmer months. They hover near the pavement because it harbors wet soil, humidity, and other sources of moisture. They can follow the moisture to your garden hose or sprinklers. If you have sprinklers running regularly, there’s a high chance the ants will stick around.
Some ants eventually move from the pavement into a nearby structure. They will huddle near showers, toilets, sinks, and other water sources. Look for a trail of ants leading from the pavement to your house to figure out how to stop them. Ant traps (especially gel traps) are often highly effective. Make sure you choose the proper trap for the type of ant you’re dealing with.
Ants Are Attracted to Warmth
Ortho claims many ants gather on the sidewalk during the spring because they’re looking for warmth. Sidewalks are scorching hot during the winter, but they provide perfect heat and insulation during the spring. They gather in large swarms on sidewalks, especially those that have filtered sunlight from the trees above.
Some ants stick around for too long, causing them to get baked onto the sidewalk. You might’ve seen a few ants dried to the sidewalk or asphalt with nothing around them. Keep in mind that these ants often find themselves in nearby structures with optimal insulation and heating.
Fighting for Territory
While most ants work together while looking for a food source, they’re not always on the same page. Neighboring ant colonies quickly become territorial if there’s not enough space to grow, eat, and drink water. OSU states that ants will get into massive battles with hundreds to thousands of bugs to stake a claim.
One of the quickest ways to know if the ants are fighting is to inspect them for damage. Grab a microscope and look for dented abdomens, removed wings, severed legs, and broken pincers. While they’re tiny, all ants are impressively strong for their size. They can lift and break things that are much bigger than them, including other ants.
Looking for a Mate
Ants look for mates quite frequently. They have a hive mind, and their sole purpose is to survive and reproduce. If there are hundreds of ants in one small space around the sidewalk, they’re likely looking for a mate. This process can take a long time, which is why you’ll see them in massive heaps, then they’re suddenly gone.
The biggest problem with this issue is that ants often look for mates near their colonies. If there are thousands of ants mating, they likely want to find a nearby place to nest. Take care of the ants with ant traps and sprays to prevent them from making a new home near your own.
Raid Ant & Roach Killer is a top-shelf solution for dealing with mating ants. They clump together, so it’s quite easy to spray thousands of ants with one can. Keep it about a foot away from the sidewalk and spray a thick line of the solution along the trail.
They’re Swarming a Potential Predator
Predators quickly become prey when they attack an ant colony. Wasps and other large bugs try to take ants one-on-one, but it doesn’t always work out for them. Ants have a knack for turning the tables by mounding over the predator until it dies; then, they eat it.
If there are a ton of ants on your pavement, try to find a small clump of them. They often pick small pieces off of the old predator and bring them back to the colony as a food source. Once the predator is fully decomposed, the ants typically leave the sidewalk alone.
That being said, some ant colonies find the sidewalk to be an excellent food source once they encounter a predator. They know they can go back to the same place for more food for a long time. This issue quickly becomes the same as the previously mentioned food source section mentioned earlier in the post.
There’s a Nearby Ant Colony
Ant colonies form wherever they have access to everything they need to survive, reproduce, and thrive. If there’s a lawn near the sidewalk, these ants have enough warmth, water, and food from dead bugs and garden hoses. They don’t have to travel too far from their colony to get what they want.
Unfortunately, ant colonies can cave in sidewalks. If your sidewalk is dented or sunk into the dirt, there’s a chance that there’s a nearby ant colony. Look under the sidewalk to find where the ants are coming from. If they’re coming out of the ground, they more than likely have a massive ant hill right under the sidewalk.
Releasing Aggression Pheromones
Ants are known for following pheromone trails. They give off various pheromones for mating, eating, and fighting. According to eHow, ants often swarm when they release aggression pheromones. Contrary to popular belief, these pheromones don’t always mean they’re ready to fight another colony.
Some ants release these pheromones when they sense danger. Hundreds of ants will gather together, but they’ll eventually disperse when they realize there’s not a realistic threat. However, aggression pheromones could also mean they’re looking for a new queen, finding another place to live, or fighting a predator that’s too close to the colony.
Whether you have actual pavement ants around your home or a colony of water ants looking for their next hydration source, it can be quite bothersome. Ants always look for food, water, shelter, and places to reproduce. Keep these things in mind when tracking nearby ant colonies to know why they’re on your sidewalk.
- eHow: Why Do Black Ants Swarm in One Spot?
- OSU: Ant Wars
- Ortho: How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants
- Combat Bugs: Why do ants swarm in sidewalk cracks