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Everything About Ants and How to Eliminate them From your
Home or Business

Family: Formicidae
Order: Hymenoptera (includes sawflies, bees, and wasps)

Spring is here! And although they assumed ecological dominance about 60 million years ago, for us, spring means that ants are marching on the streets, building colonies in damp wood, in pavement cracks, in gardens around your home and are likely snaking their way into kitchens all over Southern Ontario. In warmer months, ants often enter homes or apartments through the tiniest breaches and fissures in brick facades, gaps in window frames, and excavated wood while searching out sweet and greasy foods. When food is left out in kitchens and other areas of the home, ants with access to your living space will establish pheromone-marked scent trails, alerting the other workers of their colony to the supply. Spilt juice under the fridge or sweets discarded on a window sill can lead to the rapid invasion of ants from outdoors. In some cases, a continued supply of food may result in the development of ant colonies just about anywhere that provides fertile conditions in and around your home: In walls, under foundations and welcome mats, and in gardens next to your kitchen window. Although ants are considered more of a nuisance than a pest, ant colonies in your home are unsanitary, can lead to the contamination of your food stores and even cause structural damage.
Ants in your home or apartment can be difficult to root out and destroy, and often require a combination of physical control measures and residual insecticide use. Call (647) BED-BUGS today to schedule an inspection by one of Addison Pest Control’s licensed technicians, who will not only identify the species of ants found in your home but will tailor an integrated pest management plan to your particular pest situation.
Although the total biomass of ants on earth is about equal to that of humans, a mass consisting of over 20 000 species that support complex social structures, only the ants most common to human habitations in Southern Ontario will be discussed here (link to ant index). It is likely that at some point or other, all residents of Southern Ontario will come into contact with Argentine, Carpenter, Fire, Odorous House, Pavement, Pharoah and thief ants, be it in your kitchen, place of work, or a city park.

Physical Description:
Although ants have species-specific physical characteristics, all adult ant bodies consist of a head, thorax and abdomen. Ants have a hard, waterproof exoskeleton, two antennae used to detect other colony members and maxillary palps to detect scents. Adults also have mandibles used for grasping, carrying and fighting (biting). All six legs are located on the thorax, with the abdomen holding reproductive parts and other vital organs. Ants take in and release carbon dioxide through tiny holes all over their body called spiracles, and their nervous and circulatory systems consist of body length tubes that pump commands and colourless blood throughout the body.
Life Cycle/Reproduction:
Given that the queen of a particular species may live for up to 30 years (about 100 times longer than similarly sized solitary) ant colonies can support up to 500 000 members and survive for decades. A particular ant colony can be understood as a single organism; this is because the individual members have little to no autonomy, but each species maintains a complex eusocial structure. There are even instances where whole colonies uproot themselves when threatened and move to more stable locations. Workers live up to 7 years, although 1-3 years is more typical. Reproducing males, or drones, tend to be nomadic and may live for only a few weeks outside of the nest. The typical life cycle of ant, from egg to adult, takes anywhere from 6-12 weeks with the greatest activity seen in the spring and summer months.
Although a variety of species-specific reproductive strategies have been documented which include colonies with several queens, and colonies without any queens at all, all species of ants undergo a complete metamorphosis: Egg, larva, pupa and adult, with larvae undergoing 4-5 moults.
Most ants are univoltine, which means that new reproductives leave the colony once a year for a species to establish new colonies. The stages of ant metamorphosis for a new generation of ants usually begins when a fertile female, or, princess ant, successfully mates with a male after its nuptial flight. The princess becomes a queen, locates a nesting territory, breaks off its wings, and starts a new colony with the first cluster of eggs it lays and incubates. The species-specific queen, who may mate regularly, or only once in a lifetime, is capable of harbouring semen and selectively fertilizing eggs that will later hatch to become sexually reproductive females. All ants are bred for membership in one of three colony castes; queens (reproductive females), workers (non-reproductive females), and males (typically produced for reproduction during swarming seasons).
Tiny, oval and translucent white, ant eggs are usually about 0.5 mm in diameter, and these initial offspring tend to be unfertilized, spawning relatively weak workers who do the grunt work of excavating the nest, collecting food sources and caring for newly laid eggs and larvae. Largely immobile but for the ability to orient their orifices towards regurgitated food supplied by workers, grub-like, legless ant larvae hatch from the eggs after about 1-2 weeks. Larvae feed voraciously and moult several times before pupating. Pupae, who usually reside in a protective cocoon, have the loose appearance of adults with maturing legs and antennae still folded into the body, although they are lighter in colour, and darken as their pupal bodies mature. Adults are fully grown when they emerge (their exoskeletons prevent them from getting any larger) from the pupal stage, but continue to darken in colour for some time.

Ontario’s humid continental climate means that ants are most active when temperatures are warmer in the spring and summer, entering a state of dormancy or at least, significantly reduced activity, in the winter months.
Adult ants emerge fully grown with membership in one of three different colony castes; queens, workers or males; Queens are winged reproductive females, better nourished as larvae, responsible for laying all of the eggs in a colony. Workers are non-winged, non-reproductive females who, less well nourished as larvae, are responsible for brood care, nest care, colony defence and food gathering. Males, or drones, are short-lived, winged, reproductive colony members who mate with queens. They may enter foreign colonies, or defend their colonies from competing foreign males.
During the species-specific breeding periods, typically in the late spring or early summer, princess ants and winged males leave the colony in a nuptial flight. Heat makes flying easier, and damper ground conditions allow females to excavate nest with greater ease. Males typically take flight before the females and congregate in a common location, collectively secreting mating pheromones that lead females to their selected breeding ground. Females may mate with one or a dozen males, storing sperm in their spermathecae for later fertilization.
Ants communicate with each other largely through the use of pheromones but also use sound and touch. Ants have long, thin and mobile antennae that can be used to determine the direction, intensity and meaning of a scent. Pheromone trails are established on the ground and are navigated and maintained by foraging workers when a colony has discovered a lucrative food source. When the source has been exhausted, the scent will slowly dissipate, redirecting foragers away from the exhausted site. Crushed and injured ants emit an alarm pheromone (formic acid) that send other colony members into a violent attack and defence frenzy. Pheromones are even mixed with food to transfer task information throughout the colony, also allowing colony members to detect the task group of other members.

Control Measures:
Contact Addison Pest Control at (647) BED-BUGS to schedule an inspection with a licensed technician who will identify your pest species and tailor an integrated pest management program to your particular situation. Ant species have diverse social structures, and resultantly, complete eradication of any infestation can be a challenging process. Contact a pest control professional from Addison Pest Control when DIY solutions fail to permanently destroy your invading insect population.

About Ants and How to Get Rid of Them

There are over 12,000 different species of ants in the world. Luckily, in this area, we only need to contend with a few different species that infest homes and commercial buildings. Carpenter Ants, Pharaoh Ants, and Pavement Ants are the most common types that we perform treatments for.

Here at Addison Pest Control, we can eliminate ANY type of ants that are causing you problems.

How to Get Rid of Ants:

Our thorough ant control process always involves a few things. All our techniques are environmentally friendly and totally safe for treatments within homes and commercial places.

1. Ant Bait Treatment

Bait is very important with ant control because when ants are out foraging for food they will find this bait and bring it back to the nest, feeding it to the colony and to the queen. This will help eliminate ants at the source, even if they are in your walls or some place we cannot physically access. This is hugely beneficial as it eliminates the need to cut holes or destroy the walls to get at the nest. There are different types of ant bait made for different species of ants so it is imperative that the right bait be used for your ant problem. Store-bought ant bait often does not work – most homes we go to have numerous ant bait stations around the house and there are still hundreds of ants around the home. However, the professional-grade ant killer that we have access to ALWAYS works. Unfortunately these professional-grade products are not available to the general public (as regulated by the Ontario government Ministry of the Environment). But, as professionals we can administer the products that will really work and finally eliminate ants from your home.

Ants leave little trails to help other ants find the same food source they have discovered. So, if your kitchen is cleaned thoroughly before we come for the treatment, the existing trails will be eliminated. Then, when we put the bait in place, they will create new trails helping other ants find their way to the bait. This can really help speed up elimination of the infestation.

2. Crack & Crevice Ant Treatment with Powder / Dust

A crack and crevice treatment involves injecting dust into cracks and holes. We use a powder duster device which blows dust into the walls through the electrical outlets and other cracks and holes such as entry/exit holes for pipes and electrical wires, internet or cable tv wires, etc. By injecting powder into the walls, especially in a confined space like a wall void, the fine powder will float around coat the interior of the wall voids. This will kill any ants within the walls and help protect the walls from getting infested in case the queen shifts the nest area or if a satellite colony nest splinters off and relocates.

3. Residual Spray Treatment

The residual spray treatment will continue to protect the home for a long time after the problem is eliminated. By spraying baseboards, floors and walls behind large appliances and other surfaces that the ants might walk over, they will die within a short time of getting into contact with these protected surfaces.

4. Preventing Ant Infestations

Our treatment will eliminate ants from your home or business – but our service also includes checking the perimeter of your home – inside AND out – to try to identify entry points as well as potential future entry points if any part of the house is coming loose. We will fill and reinforce all those holes so that ants are kept out for good!


Ant problems usually clear up within a few days to a few weeks at most. If not – we come back and do the whole procedure over again for free – and again and again if necessary – until they are completely gone.

Carpenter Ants

The “big black ants” people typically describe are Carpenter Ants. These ants do not eat wood like termites do but they do burrow into wood to make their homes. This can be very problematic for buildings if the ants are digging holes into the structural elements of the home, causing damage to the building and potentially affecting the structural integrity of the building. Carpenter ants are also problematic because they crawl over all kinds of surfaces when they are out foraging for food. They might crawl over garbage or sewage, potentially picking up that bacteria and transporting it to human food, dishes, and other things that could potentially negatively affect our health and well-being.

Pharaoh Ants

These are the very tiny ants that are often light brown and present in large and growing numbers in the spring when they become active after a long winter  – and in the fall when they are seeking new sources of food and shelter and happen to find a way into your home. Pharaoh ants are possibly the most challenging type of ant to eliminate – but if you use the right products and tools for the job, you can always get rid of these pesky tiny ants.

Pavement Ants

Pavement ants are usually found infesting driveways, walkway pavers, or tiled outdoor terrace patios – but they can sometimes get into homes and cause problems. These ants can eat pretty much anything but when they get into your home or business they will be drawn to foods that are sweet or contain protein. They often thrive on crumbs and drips that fall between the stove and counter-tops, but if they find a significant food source like an open box of cereal, spilled bag of sugar or flour in the cupboard, or even the little drips that surround the top of your honey jar – they will keep coming back. It’s a good thing there are products and techniques that we can use to effectively eliminate ants from your home.

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