March is the Start of Ant Season!
Once the warmer weather rolls around, and the cold winter makes space for springtime, ants
also come out. That is why many Canadians have ant problems in March - most commonly, the carpenter ant
, of the genus Camponotus, which consists of 1,000 species of carpenter ants.
What is a Carpenter Ant?
The carpenter ant is the most common pest encountered in Canadian homes, and they get the name from the fact that they possess expert carpenter skills when it comes to cutting, grooving, tunnelling and sanding through decaying wood to construct a series of tunnels and galleries in which they live.
Often mistaken for termites, carpenter ant colonies need a stable source of moisture to survive. These ants are big and black in appearance, and while they do not eat wood, they cause much damage. They feed on scavenged insects and collect honeydew (carbohydrate secretions) produced by aphids that feed on outside vegetation.
Carpenter ants can cause considerable damage to your home.
Do I Have a Carpenter Ant Problem?
In early spring, the increasing heat warms the colony, luring the ants out of their dormancy. However, the outdoor temperatures still don't allow for normal foraging. If you have ants in your home during early spring, it is probable that they are in the structure and not coming in from outdoors. They can be found on the floor, on counters and shelves, as well as near plumbing and food sources.
Reproductive females or "swarmers" are usually trapped near windows. During warm days, you may note them flying into the home. If you only notice one or two, it is usually not a problem, as they may have emerged from a colony nearby in search of a new place to make their nest. Winged ants are usually a sign of a nest older than three years, which consists of over 3, 000 worker ants.
Dealing with a Carpenter Ant Problem
There are several ways in which to prevent future carpenter ant problems:
- Eliminate sources of moisture, food and reproduction.
- Store firewood far away from your home during winter.
- Remove vegetation that comes in contact with your house.
- Replace decayed wood with sound materials.
- Seal food containers and follow good sanitary practices.
While these remedies will go some ways to help prevent carpenter and infestations, it is usually preferable to call for specialized pest control services. Professional pest control companies will carry out thorough inspections of your property in order to locate nests and bait traps properly. They have access to equipment and treatments that will guarantee complete removal and prevention of future carpenter ant infestations.
About the Author
, co-owner of GreenLeaf Pest Control
, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.