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Ants: Tips and solutions to eradicate them

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The risks of a carpenter ant infestation:

Carpenter ants do not feed on wood, contrary to what one might believe. Instead, they use the wood to build their nest by digging galleries inside. This behavior is similar to termites which also tunnel inside wood.

The world has more than 12,000 different species of ants, including more than 100 species in Quebec, distributed in approximately 26 genera. Most of these species are not harmful to humans, and some may even play a beneficial role in limiting the population of other harmful insects.

What types of ants can be dangerous?

Among the insect species listed in Quebec, three species of ants have harmful characteristics. The European red ant and the pharaoh ant, two of them, can inflict painful stings and carry pathogens. Consequently, their eradication is necessary as soon as they establish their colony inside a human habitat, which can be very disruptive.

The third damaging species is the carpenter ant, which attacks building structures rather than humans. In this case, the associated risks are very different.

The risks of an ant infestation on the building:

Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants do not feed on wood, but rather dig inside it to establish their colony. This behavior is similar to that of termites, which also nest in galleries that they dig in wood.

These insects tend to favor tree stumps, dead wood and sometimes even living trees to establish their nests. However, they can be attracted to heat and food sources inside homes, which sometimes leads them to take up residence in the frames of houses.

Over time, the tunnels dug by carpenter ants can cause damage to the building structure, weakening the integrity of the entire building.

How to identify a carpenter ant?

The carpenter ant is easily recognizable thanks to its distinctive size and color. While the pavement ant, another species common in Quebec, only measures a few millimeters, the workers of a colony of carpenter ants have an average size of around 1 cm.

Color is another important criterion for the identification of this species. Unlike many other ant species which have a brown tint, the carpenter ant is predominantly black.

To help you determine the species of ant you have, you can use an identification guide which contains a printable scale of the sizes of the most common ant species in Quebec.

What to do if you detect the presence of carpenter ants?

Pest control is a shared responsibility. Whether you rent or own, we must work together to control pest infestations.

Ant infestation: what to do if I am a tenant?

If you are a tenant, it is imperative to notify your landlord of the presence of ants in your home. The landlord should take steps to investigate the problem and ensure that the ant colony is not affecting the structural integrity of the building. You can also consult the section on pest control in the Logis Québec tenant guide . This guide contains preventive measures to avoid a deterioration of the situation. Additionally, the following sections of the guide provide specific tips for preventing an ant infestation.

Ant infestation: what to do if I am the owner?

If you are a landlord, it is important to identify the magnitude of the situation. Indeed, it is not because you find a few specimens indoors that you are facing an infestation. The ant nest may be outside and some ants are only entering to look for food. In this case, you will have to remain vigilant, but there is nothing to indicate that your building is at risk. On the other hand, if the nest is inside, you must take action and purchase specialized ant control products.

How to identify an ant infestation?

It is important to note that the presence of a few ants in your home does not necessarily mean an infestation. However, if a nest is present indoors, action must be taken without delay.

To locate the nest, it is possible to follow the path of the ants. Scout ants leave a scent that guides other ants to the food, so the path is usually the same from the nest to the food. Carpenter ants dig into wood to make their nest, so piles of sawdust can indicate proximity to the nest. It is therefore important to carefully monitor cracks and holes in the wood. Ants are most active after sunset, making them easier to detect.

In addition to shavings, noise can also reveal the presence of a nest. Ants produce a sharp rustling sound as they move across wood structures. This noise is more easily detectable at night, when the house is quieter. To ensure the presence of a nest, it is possible to use a wine glass or a stethoscope to amplify the noise.

If the path taken by the ants leads to a nest outside, simply re-caulk the house and implement the preventative measures recommended below. On the other hand, if a nest is discovered inside, it is imperative to apply treatment as quickly as possible.

How to prevent an ant infestation?

To avoid an ant infestation, it is essential to take certain preventative measures. First, it is crucial to understand that ants have an affinity for damp or rotting wood. Therefore, if your home is suffering from moisture or mold problems, it is important to address this situation first. In case some wooden parts of the house are already infected or rotten, it is recommended to replace them with materials in good condition.

Next, it is essential to remove all potential food sources. It is therefore necessary to ensure that all food is stored in waterproof containers and that no food residue is on the floor. It is important to collect crumbs and sweep and vacuum regularly.

Finally, if you find tree stumps or rotten wood around your house, it is best to get rid of them. In fact, these materials can serve as shelters for carpenter ant nests. It is also recommended to avoid storing firewood near your home. You should also look at other places that may have ant nests. Certain landscaping, such as bark mulch, retaining walls or wooden pieces, can encourage the establishment of ants.

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