What is it?
Many kinds of ants can be found in the area.
Ants most regularly encountered are native field ants (Formica species) nesting under sidewalks or creating mounds in lawns. If your house is not well sealed, workers can wander in foraging for food, but they seldom do any real damage.
The Pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis) and other exotic species of ants (fire ants, argentine ants, crazy ants, thief ants. ) will nest in apartments and other buildings, where they are potential pests year round.
These exotic species, usually imported with plant material, will feed on many household foods such as meats, grease, sweets, fruits, vegetables and liquids.
The most damaging ants in Edmonton are native carpenter ants (Camponotus species) which can excavate their galleries in wood. Like termites, these insects can cause serious structural damage if left unchecked. There are no termites in Edmonton.
Several other ant species collectively known as "moisture ants" have also been found associated with rotting wood in buildings. One of these ants (Lasius pallitarsis) is sometimes recovered from Edmonton homes that have experienced water damage.
Before attempting to control an ant problem, it is best to have the workers (wingless ants) identified.
Bring your insect sample to the River Valley, Forestry and Environmental Services office at 12304-107 Street. Identification services for ants or any other insects are available from 7:30 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday.
What's the problem?
Although most ants around Edmonton are at worst a nuisance, some species can become serious pests in the house, even causing structural damage.
What can I do?
To prevent field ants from wandering into your house, repair cracks and crevices with a silicone sealant. Before sealing the cracks, blow a drying absorbent dust (diatomaceous earth or silica aerogel) into wall voids and other inaccessible places to provide long-term control.
Strategic placement of sticky insect barriers can also deny ants access to certain areas. Exercise good housekeeping practices and seal all food and organic waste in tightly sealed containers so as not to provide attractive food sources for ants.
The pharaoh ant is one species of exotic ant that can survive in Edmonton homes year round. It is important to seal food and garbage properly. Food that the ants have swarmed over should be assumed to have been exposed to organisms causing spoilage, and should be discarded.
Typical insecticides cannot be used against these ants as they will undergo a process called budding, whereby the colony will fragment and spread to other areas.
It will take time, but baiting is the only sure way of eliminating these persistent pests.
Ant bait stations (small plastic discs containing a food attractant mixed with an insecticide, usually boric acid or hydramethylnon) are available at hardware stores and garden centres.
Carpenter ants prefer to nest in moist decaying wood but they will tunnel through dry timbers. In addition to causing damage to trees and buildings, carpenter ants will also bite if provoked.
To help prevent carpenter ants from coming into your house, remove all stumps, logs and wood debris from your yard. Wood in contact with the soil, such as deck supports and fence posts, should be treated. Store any firewood away from the house and off the ground.
Destroy any colonies within 100 metres of your home by setting out ant bait stations and spraying or dusting the nest with a residual insecticide.
Finding carpenter ants indoors at any time of the year indicates the presence of a nearby colony or colonies. Locating the nest usually is the most difficult step in control. Swarms of large, black, winged ants in the house, usually in the spring, indicates that you likely have a serious infestation in your home.
Piles of sawdust are also indicators of carpenter ant activity in your home, but they may not always accumulate in evident locations. Sometimes a nest can be located in walls by listening for a dry rustling sound that will get louder if you disturb the ants by pounding on the wall.
Control of carpenter ants in a building is best left to a professional exterminator. When searching for an exterminator, look for a company that guarantees its work.
This group of ants are common, native insects. These ants are not a primary structural pest, but they can speed the deterioration of wood that is already in a state of decay.
They are secretive insects and often go undetected in homes until the colony is mature enough to produce winged, reproductive swarmers. They will excavate water-damaged wood in walls, often worsening matters by filling wall voids with soil.
The presence of these ants in a building is usually a symptom of a leakage or condensation problem. Correct the moisture problem and replace all damaged wood with sound material.
Ants in wall voids should be treated with dust formulations, as liquid sprays may damage insulation or cause electrical shorts.