The most important step in all pest control procedures is to accurately identify the type of ant in your home or business. Different species have very different control methods and the wrong application may even make the problem worse. The knowledgeable operators at St. Catharines Pest Control Services can identify your ant species right over the phone (1-888-390-7378) . This article should help you to better understand your pest issue.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Common types of ants and how to identify them
Frequently asked questions
The most common types of ant infestations you can find in homes and businesses across southern Ontario are carpenter ants, pavement ants and pharaoh ants. These 3 species account for over 95% of infestations. Each species of ant has specific characteristics such as size, colour and behaviour that will help you in identifying it.
Characteristics of the carpenter ant - Appearance, diet, habitat and life cycle
The carpenter ant is typically black in colour and can sometimes have red on its chest. It is the largest species of ant in Ontario, making it easier to identify than others. These types of ants are around ¼ in. to ½ in. in size and have a thin waist with bent antennae. If they have wings, they are clear and the front pair of wings is larger than the hind wings.
Carpenter ants eat things such as sugar, protein and carbs. They can feed on insects that are dead or alive but also have a sweet tooth (so to speak) and tend to swarm to foods high in sugar such as honey, jelly, jams and sugars. These types of ants can dehydrate rather quickly and that’s why water is also an important part of this pest’s diet. When they forage for food they can travel as far as 150 ft. from their colony.
Carpenter ants often get confused with termites because they tend to live in the 2x4 studs inside the walls or other available cavities of your home or business. This type of ant has been known to chew at the wooden foundation in order to forge a space for the colony to live in. This behaviour differs from termites in that they do not actually eat the wood, whereas termites do. If a carpenter ant infestation is left untreated, the incessant gnawing of wood can actually weaken the infrastructure of your home or business, that’s why it’s important to deal with the extermination sooner rather than later.
Colonies and nests can be found in practically any empty floor or wall space in your home or business. Outdoors these ants tend to live in hollow logs, telephone poles, tree stumps, fence posts or any other large piece of wood they can find and have a preference for decayed, moist and old wood.
Male carpenter ants mating swarms usually occur in February or March whereas the female carpenter ants typically swarm later in the year. There is usually only one egg-laying queen in each colony and it can take between three to six years for the colony to fully mature. At that point more than 10,000 ants will make up the colony and about 300 ants are bred every year.
Characteristics of the pavement ant - Appearance, diet, habitat and life cycle
The pavement ant is typically blackish to brown in colour with lighter coloured legs and antennae. All of the ants in a pavement ant colony are usually the same size, which makes them easier to identify. They are 1/8 in. to 1/16 in. in size, making them smaller than carpenter ants.
Pavement ants have a preference for foods high in sugar or protein but are also known to eat greasy foods. These ants can be easily spotted as they are slow moving and will enter into structures looking for food.
These ants can be found on any floor or in basements, usually in groups and close to baseboards. They are also commonly found outside under decks, rocks, next to buildings and in cracks of pavement. In the summer time these small brown ants usually make piles of sand on sidewalks and curbs alike. In addition to these spaces, the pavement ant can also sometimes be found under floors, insulation in walls and around window and door frames.
A mature colony usually swarms, or mates, in the spring. It can take about four to eight weeks for a pavement ant to complete the full cycle from egg to adult. Winged adults mean that ant can reproduce, however these are rarely seen in homes in southern Ontario.
Characteristics of the pharaoh ant - Appearance, diet, habitat and life cycle
Pharaoh ants are tiny and measure in at 2 mm (workers) to 4 mm (queens) in length and vary from yellow, orange to red in colour. These ants can be found in buildings across southern Ontario, as they are unable to survive the outdoors especially during the winter months.
Pharaoh ants are omnivores and tend to feed on fats, proteins and carbohydrates. A balanced diet is instinctually important for the pharaoh ant and as a result they switch between different types of foods and prefer alteration. These ants have also been known to scavenge and kill small insects.
Pharaoh ants can typically be found in warm and humid places such as kitchens or bathrooms in residential settings and in boiler rooms, sinks, heating ducts, laundry rooms, around toilets and pipes in commercial spaces. They typically nest inside wall voids, under floors, behind baseboards or in window sills. Only about 10 per cent of the pharaoh ants in a colony will forage for food night and day and can venture quite far from the nest and are often undetected due to their small size.
Colonies can grow as large as thousands of ants and each colony can have multiple queens, making control a bit of a challenge.
Pharaoh ants do not have a specific mating space and do not swarm. Mating takes place within the colony and nest. A new colony is typically formed through a process known as “budding” – a single queen will leave the main colony followed by a group of adult workers to start a new colony elsewhere. Queens only live about eight months and the adult worker can live for about nine to 10 weeks. It takes about one to two months for eggs to hatch into adult ants.
How can carpenter ants enter my home?
Carpenter ants typically enter a home or business through branches or wires that touch your home in addition to being brought in on firewood, among other avenues. They can build colonies in virtually any blank or void spaces in the floors and walls of your property and have a tendency to be attracted to moisture.
How are carpenter ants different from termites?
Termites can usually be found in warmer climates and are distinctly white in colour. Carpenter ants are black in colour and are typically much larger than termites. They are often confused because they both live in colonies and have a preference for wood. It is important to note that termites do not roam freely around your home whereas carpenter ants do. In addition to that, carpenter ants have clear wings, a thin waist and elbowed (or bent) antennae and termites have translucent wings, a much broader waist and have straight antennae.
What kind of damage can a carpenter ant do to my home or business?
These ants tend to live in the 2x4 studs in your walls. They burrow and tunnel into the wood to house their colonies and if left untreated, can hollow out an entire wood panel, which not only threatens the structural integrity of the property but can also become a safety hazard over time.
What are some signs of a carpenter ant infestation or problem?
Carpenter ants are often found (dead or alive) on kitchen countertops, pantries and other storage areas where they forage for food. You can also find these ants in damaged wood or dispersed throughout other random locations in your home. They are not often seen in groups; however, if you do see a group of ants it is possible that they are mating (or swarming) in your home – which is a sign of a much bigger infestation.
How can pavement ants enter my home? Where are they usually found?
More often than not, pavement ants enter your home through windows and door frames. Once they make their way inside your home, they can often be found in groups and close to baseboards and sometimes under floors or the insulation in walls. These little brown ants can also be found outdoors under rocks or decks, under cracks in pavement or next to buildings.
How are carpenter and pavement ants different from one another?
Pavement ants, while a nuisance, do not typically cause any structural damage to your home or business (unlike carpenter ants). Pavement ants are more brownish in colour, much smaller and are often found in groups, whereas carpenter ants tend to be black, larger and are commonly found alone. Pavement ants are almost always found on floors and carpenter ants can be found on not only floors but also countertops, tables, walls or even ceilings.
Importance of identifying pharaoh ants
It’s important to properly identify pharaoh ants because certain treatments that might be suitable for controlling other types of ant infestations can make a pharaoh ant problem much worse. One of the easiest ways to identify a pharaoh ant is by their size. They are one of the smallest breeds of ants that are found in southern Ontario. To put things in perspective, pharaoh ants are only 2 mm in size whereas the pavement ant (the closest in size to the pharaoh ant) is 6 mm in length. Pharaoh ants have quite distinctive behaviour that makes them easy to set apart from other species. Pharaoh ants can typically be found in groups (although sometimes on their own) in kitchens and bathrooms because of the accessibility to water.
Why should I not spray pesticides for the treatment of a pharaoh ant infestation?
This infestation requires a very specific treatment plan to eliminate or control the pest problem in a safe and effective way. Spraying pesticides will only make the problem worse, as the colony will feel threatened and find home elsewhere, spreading across the entire building or home. The fact that there are multiple queens within the colony make it easy for them to spread rapidly, thus making traditional sprays and insecticides ineffective in controlling the problem long term. Baiting applications are the only effective treatment and may require multiple visits in order to eradicate the infestation for good.
Are pharaoh ants harmful to my health?
In homes, pharaoh ants are a nuisance pest and do not pose any health risks; however, in a hospital setting, because of their ability to carry and transmit infectious pathogens, they can pose a health risk. They have an attraction to blood and bodily fluids and can contaminate both foods and sterile instruments. While there have been no specific documentation of pharaoh ants negatively affecting patients in hospitals, it is always best to take the necessary precautions and to avoid the worst.
How do you control an ant problem? What are my next steps?
Once the pest has been properly identified, we are able to safely and effectively begin exterminating. One of our licensed technicians will come out to your home to perform an inspection to determine what might be attracting the ants to your home. Preventative and corrective actions will be recommended and a custom treatment plan will be presented.
How does St. Catharines Pest Control Services treat carpenter ants?
Treatments solutions are determined on a case-by-case basis, as each home or space is different; however, they usually involve a combination of sprays, baits and dust with special attention to barrier sprays. It is important to let the technician know about any odd crackling sounds in your walls, if you are constantly finding wood shavings somewhere in your home, or have persistent moisture problems around windows, dishwashers, tubs or showers, and if you see the ants singly over a wide area or if they tend to congregate in one particular spot. The technician will ask you a series of questions in order to determine the best course of action to perform an effective extermination for your home or business.
The technician will then begin the treatment application and you will be required to leave the property for about four hours, to allow the treatment to safely dry. St. Catharines Pest Control is a company that prides itself on using the most environmentally friendly products and the safest techniques available and we always make sure the lowest application rate is used to exterminate the pest infestation from your home.
How does St. Catharines Pest Control treat pavement ants?
Our certified technician will tailor a treatment solution for the particular needs of your home or office. Much like the treatment for carpenter ants, the treatment for pavement ants consists of a combination of sprays and baits. Once the source of the infestation is discovered it not only makes the extermination process much easier but also more effective. The technician will then begin the treatment application and you will be required to leave the property for about four hours, to allow the treatment to safely dry.
How does St. Catharines Pest Control treat pharaoh ants?
Do not spray any residential or commercial pesticides to stop the infestation, as these products will only make the problem exponentially worse. If you have already sprayed, stop doing so immediately.
The treatment of pharaoh ants is entirely different from the typical treatments used to eradicate carpenter or pavement ants from your home or business. Pharaoh ant colonies can have thousands of queens (whereas with carpenter ants it is only one) which makes them much more difficult to remove because if they're threatened they tend to multiply. Store bought sprays can typically make a pharaoh ant infestation worse, that’s why it’s important to call a professional in order to properly control your pharaoh ant infestation.
The best and most effective course of treatment for pharaoh ants is to apply a protein and sugar bait program in specific places throughout your home or office. Small dots of two custom-made mixes are put in strategic locations in kitchens and bathrooms in order to lure the pests out of hiding. The ants then eat the bait and within two to three weeks will die off. Patience is crucial during this time.
Note: You are not required to leave your house during a pharaoh ant treatment.
How do I prepare for an ant infestation treatment?
Carpenter and pavement ants
– Make sure the baseboards of the home or office space are easily reachable, as the technician will need to be able to access them. Be sure to clear away any clutter and move furniture away from walls before the technician arrives. Any other affected areas, such as underneath sinks, in crawl spaces and so on should also be de-cluttered before the technician arrives.
– After you book an appointment for your treatment, one of the professionals from St. Catharines Pest Control will send you a preparation letter with instructions on what you must do before the technician arrives at your home. If it’s at all possible, try to retain a sample of one of the pharaoh ants for the technician. You must follow these instructions step by step as outlined in the preparation letter or the treatment will be compromised.
What do I do after the treatment?
Carpenter and pavement ants
– Do not disturb the ant stations left by the technician until the ant activity has slowed down. The technician will not spray furniture or countertops, so it is unnecessary to clean these spaces after the treatment. You can vacuum or wash your floors as needed, however, we recommend not washing or vacuuming the floors along the baseboard until at least three weeks after the treatment and when you do to leave a space of at least 6 in. to 1 ft. from where you are vacuuming or washing the floors to the baseboards.
– Unlike treatment for carpenter or pavement ants, the extermination process for pharaoh ants is passive. You must remain patient, as this treatment will take time – two to three weeks – before you no longer see the ants. After the treatment, put all food in sealed containers so that the only food available to the ants is the treatment bait. Do not leave any food on countertops and do not leave dishes out for an extended period of time. Following these instructions is a crucial step in making sure your pest problem is not only effectively controlled, but eradicated for good.
What do I do if I think I might have an ant infestation?
If you think you may have an ant infestation the most important thing you can do is accurately identify the type of ant, retain a sample and clear out any sources of food that might be leading the ants into a particular spot in your home or office.
Please do not hesitate to call one of our trained professionals at St. Catharines Pest Control at 1-888-390-PEST (7378). Our licensed and friendly exterminators will be happy to inspect your home and give you a free quote. Remember, minor infestations can grow very rapidly, and turn a small problem into a big one.