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How Ants Survive the Winter

How Ants Survive the Winter


Hi ant lovers! Ever wonder how ants survive winter? In some areas of the world winter temperatures can drop as low as negative 40 degrees C. And yet ants still manage to survive, how do they do it? Well, you’re about to learn how. Welcome to another ants Canada video! So here’s a typical ant colony gearing up for the winter The queen stops laying eggs, the worker ants have begun to store food in their crops, and the young stop developing. All entrances of the ant nest have been sealed Alright, so for weeks now temperatures have gone down to as low as 10 degrees Celsius It’s the end of fall and as winter comes it will bring with it sub-zero temperatures So let’s talk about ants’ first line of defense against the cold Now as a general rule: the deeper in the ground you go, the further from the surface you go, the more constant the temperature is compared to the surface. You see, air can cool and heat up pretty fast but soil water and rocks don’t change temperature as easily as air and as a result at just 4 feet below the surface, the temperature remains at a constant plus 10 degrees Celsius This means that some ants burrow deep into the ground and this area of below 4 feet is a safe zone for ants and other creatures that hibernate in the winter. Pretty cool, right? But that’s not all, what about ants that naturally have shallow nests and don’t go deeper than 4 feet? Plus those ants that live in decaying wood up above the ground surface like these carpenter ants? Temperatures reach below freezing in these areas! This brings us to ants’ second line of defense against the freezing cold: a simple sugar alcohol compound, called glycerol. Okay, without getting too chem technical this magic stuff known as glycerol forms strong hydrogen bonds with water molecules, competing with water-water-hydrogen bonds. This completely disrupts the crystal lattice formation of ice. So you see, glycerol acts as an antifreeze and Actually glycerol historically way back in the day was used as an antifreeze for cars! Ants produce glycerol in their hemolymph (a technical term for ant blood) as temperatures outside get colder and this keeps ants from freezing during the winter. For three long months, this ant colony you see here was kept at temperatures between negative five degrees Celsius and sometimes as low as negative 20 degrees Celsius. And as you’re about to see, they’re still very much alive and not frozen. This is a time-lapse video of the colony placed at room temperature. The worker ants began to move and emerge from hibernation pretty quickly but the queen who is much bigger than the workers has more fluids and guts inside her, and she therefore takes longer to return to normal. Surprisingly the queen didn’t start moving normally until twelve days after being placed in room temperature! Studies have shown that glycerol is only produced within the ants’ bodies for these winter hibernation periods, and then is completely non present in the summer months. One report in 2006 by John Chen found that some ants even lined their nests with glycerol and we don’t know why yet but perhaps it’s to keep their nests from freezing too which might endanger the colony during the winter. This miraculous and amazing process of hibernation and re-emergence in the spring happens here after year. Ants, along with other insects and arthropods manage to remain alive during the harsh winter months, and now you know how they do it. Now, if you’re an ant keeper like me and you live in a temperate region, you will want to hibernate your ants starting when you stop seeing ants outside. I like to do it sometime in November. You can bring your ants back to normal temperatures sometime in the spring when you start to see insects outside, usually around February or March. Hibernating them at plus 10 degrees Celsius is all you need, but if you’re going to hibernate them at colder temperatures, be sure to make the decrease in temperature gradual over a period of several weeks so they have the time to produce glycerol in their bodies. You can place the colony near a cold windowsill at first, then move them to a colder place. Or, what I like to do is I place them in an unheated basement towards the end of fall and allow them to cool down slowly along with the temperatures outside. Or an even safer method is to place the ants in a digital wine cooler at plus 10 degrees Celsius. Some keep their ants in the fridge, but be sure to place the fridge on its warmest setting. It is easier to hibernate ants in a test tube, because you don’t have to worry about watering them but if your ants are in a formicarium already, make sure to keep their nest moist. If your ant colony is in a large setup it may be easier to disconnect all parts and store them in a cold place, separately. When in hibernation, check up on the ants every few days, or once a week. Hibernation is important for pet ants, as it gives the queen a break and some say it prolongs her life. Even if you do keep ants warm during the winter most ants will start to slow down anyway due to their biological clock. So why not give them the chance to hibernate? Oh yeah, and of course if you’re in a tropical region, and you’re keeping tropical ants: DO NOT hibernate them. You’ll kill them. Thanks for watching guys, and if you need pet ant keeping supplies, please visit us and read more information at our website at www.AntsCanada.com Ant Love forever, bye! Hey, thanks guys for watching, if you want to check out more videos on this channel be sure to check out our latest video on our brand new line of genus-tailored hybrid nests: Really cool formicarium for your ants that are specifically geared to house your species of ants, whatever they may be and also check out our very cool solenopsis geminata playlist It’s Ant Love forever guys, thanks! And don’t forget to subscribe! [upbeat accordion outro music]

100 thoughts on “How Ants Survive the Winter”

  1. I can hardly believe people keep ants as pets. I am trying to find out how to get rid of mine. I am hoping they all die off. They just won't go away. Sorry but they are pest.

  2. A few years ago, I got a few ants and a small container for them for Christmas. Unfortunately, it was before I watched these videos, so I didn't know how to care for them. Anyway, I got them in a little tube that was kept cold. The ants were huddled together and not moving, so we at first thought they were dead, but then they started to move around after warming up inside. I realized that they must do that in the cold, in order to hibernate. Hopefully, I'll get more one day and know how to properly care for them, thanks to watching your channel 🙂

  3. i love this channel! my mom…not that good with crawly,slimy and basically anything non furry,like snakes and bugs,yet i love looking at them and feeding them,and with bigger creatures then say ants, i like holding them and carrying them,especially inside,so yeah my mom kinda hates me for that during spring and summer when i find snakes,and no way does she let me keep ants in the house,and whenever she sees them,she kills them, so this channel lets me see ants without my mom spraying ant killer at them! yay! ant love for life!

  4. "If you live in a tropical region and have tropical ants, don't hibernate them, you'll kill 'em" Best part of the video.

  5. nice camera shots I love your work and I am a big fan and I try to comment on every video keep doing what your doing love your work😉

  6. codyslab did a video about bees surviving winter too, the only diffrence in the titles was bees changed to ants, coincidence I THINK NOT!

  7. hey I definitely appreciate the information. my girlfriend has several question in regards to hibernating and you answered every single one of them. keep it up and keep this great Channel alive

  8. hey !! I have a question! What happens if you separate 1/3 of your ant colony for about two months and then join them back together ? Will they fight or will they remember each other ????

  9. Are Honey Bees actually related to ants? Apis Mellifera ? Also, here in the Northeastern United States, I see mounds that around 1 foot in diameter and approximately domed a little over one foot high, covered in grass. The water table is high and these mounds are filled with ants, particularly prominent in winter. Do you have a video showing ants making above ground water escapes like that? If you'd like to see it, I can make a video, but I think the ants would be exposed after breaking it open and would die in the cold. Thanks for the interesting video and ant facts 🙂 Thumbs UP!

  10. whats annoying is that i used to live in mass and i was like a 2 minute walk from the new york/mass border and i once caught a queen in new york, 30 seconds past the border and i legally couldnt bring it back to my house, i did anyways but its technically illegal.

  11. 0:11 do you realize that at -40 degrees you don't have to say whether it is celsius or fahrenheit because it is almost exactly the same?

  12. As kids we used sports freeze on ants.
    Truly amazing how they turned into little isicles, then they thawed up and kept on working as if nothing had ever happened.

  13. At the beginning, he said in some places, winters can get to -40 Celsius. That is equal to -40 f. Celcius or Fahrenheit are unnecessary details at -40

  14. Very good videos but very expensive prices for something u can get for couple of £$€ 180us$ for a small starter setup? Sorry but no way. People don’t pay that much money for something u can get from Amazon or eBay for much much much less.

  15. 2:20 Workers: WAKE UP queen: no I’m still tired … (10 days later) Workers: WAKE UP queen: I’m still tired 🙂

  16. honestly I am completely drunk and was thinking, how do ants survive winter
    as I saw a frozen colony/nest outside the day befor. I learned a lot, truefacts

  17. So I’m buying a house in New Hampshire and want my first colony. I want to start with Carpenter ants. Could I have my actually have my farm and whole set up in my garage that isn’t heated and just let it get cold and hot along with the outside temperature ?

  18. Hey AntsCanada I am Mikey an aspiring ant keep and i have to ask do carpenter ants still hibernate in warm climates like Arizona (where i live) just wondering before is start my colony

  19. I have seen your videos and have become a fan pretty quickly. I want to try out the ant hobby myself but still have so many doubts. If you could help me out I'd be really grateful. You see, I live in Bogota where the weather varies quite a lot. Its chill in the mornings and at night but during the day it can be pretty warm. In order to mantain my colony warm, what are some tips you would recommend?

  20. I've been hibernating my pet marauder ants for 2 years already, they seem fine, just as pretty as 2016 when they went to sleep

  21. I live in a condo and I don’t have a cold place. My mom doesn’t want them in a fridge. What do I do? I do have a balcony but we are about 7 floors above the ground. Can I keep my window open a little near them?

  22. This is just about as old as GTA 4….. This is important because in the in-game internet there is an ant farm webcam site, I think that's pretty cool.

  23. Ants are not pets. They're wild creatures that live outdoors, and to
    treat them like pets is to steal their freedom, and force them to live a
    life they were not meant to live. Take them outside, and let them go.
    They're not toys for your amusement.

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