Professional Ant Exterminator in the Fraser Valley
At Bugman Pest Control, we understand how troublesome an ant infestation in your home can be. Ants can carry diseases that put you and your family’s health at risk and cause structural damage to your property. We offer quick and efficient ant extermination services in The Fraser Valley. Our licensed technicians have the equipment and experience to eliminate the infestation in your home.
Get in touch with us today to schedule an inspection and professional extermination services for ants, including pavement ant and carpenter ant infestations.
Are Ants Pests?
A few ant species are considered pests because they live in and protect territory that we consider ours, or because they want to consume resources that we need. Here are a few examples:
- Leafcutting ants compete with us for crop plants in the American tropics.
- Fire ants colonize damp grasslands (including lawns!) with alarming ease.
- Carpenter ants live in damp or rotting wood and consider the dead wood (lumber) in houses fair game.
A number of opportunistic ant species can overrun kitchens, pantries,, and pet food areas in search of suitable food items. Some ants (like their relatives the wasps and bees) have a potent sting. As with bees, some people can become hypersensitive to ant stings.
General Ant Features
Shape, Size & Colour
The body of an ant is clearly divided into three sections: The head, the thorax, and the abdomen.
Depending on species, workers may be similar in size or come in a range of sizes.
Ants tend to come in dark or earth tones. Different species are black, earth-tone reds, pale tans, and basic browns.
Males vs Females
Flying male and female reproductive ants swarm (mate) in the late spring to early summer, after which, the female ant starts a new colony and becomes a queen. Both the male and female ants shed their wings after mating but, unlike the female, the male does not live much longer.
The queen can be distinguished from workers by their larger body size, larger thorax, and larger abdomen. Males generally have small heads, large eyes, large thoraces, and a pair of claspers at the end of the abdomen.
Male ants serve only one purpose, which is to mate with a reproductive female, whereas a female ant may take on one of two roles:
- Reproductive Female/New Queen: Responsible for mating and expanding the colony.
- Worker Ant: Responsible for foraging and caring for eggs.
Ant larvae are white and grub-like. They have no legs and don’t move about much on their own. You can generally see a large, dark stomach through their cuticle.
Ant pupae look like white adult ants, with their legs and antennae pressed close to their bodies. In some species, larvae spin silk, and the pupal stage is inside a cocoon.
Food Sources & Habitats
Most ants eat a variety of small insects, both dead and alive as well as nectar or honeydew. They need a balance of carbohydrates and protein. Protein is especially needed for the queen to produce eggs and for the larvae to grow.
Most ant species live in the soil. Some, like the carpenter ants, also live in wood (they excavate, but do not actually eat the wood). Some ants live in cavities made inside plants, such as acorns, twigs, and galls.
Ants are social insects living in colonies comprised of one or more (depending on species) and many workers. The queen generally stays deep and safe within a nest. Most ants that you see are workers and these are all females
Since ants are social they display many behaviors that remind us of our families and society. For example, worker ants take care of larvae by feeding and washing them. Another similarity can be found in their communication habits. Ants are able to communicate with each other, and will do so to let one another know where food is, and they will send alarms when something is threatening them or the colony.
Types of Ants
The Fraser Valley is home to a variety of ants, each with unique characteristics. These ants can invade your home and damage it in different ways. Some common ants found in this area are:
Carpenter ants are the largest of the native ant types and can grow up to 2 cm in size. They like to reside in moist wood and building materials, and although they don’t actually eat it, they will tunnel through it causing damage to your home.
The 2 most common species of carpenter ants in Canada are:
- Modoc: These carpenter ants are all black (their legs may have a rusty red colour), and they only have one queen in their parent nest.
- Vicinus: These carpenter ants have a black head, a rusty red thorax (mid-section), and a black abdomen (tail section), and they have multiple queens in a parent nest.
Carpenter Ant Size
Carpenter ants can be as small as 1/4 inch or as large as 3/4 of an inch. All sizes can be found in one nest.
Carpenter Ant Nesting Sites
Most carpenter ant species establish their initial nest in decayed wood, but, once established, the ants extend their tunneling into sound wood and can do considerable damage to a structure. These species commonly nest in standing trees (living or dead), in stumps, or in logs on the forest floor.
Since many houses are built in forested areas, well-established, vigorous colonies are readily available in the immediate vicinity to attack these dwellings. This is especially true when the homeowner insists that the home be built with minimal removal of trees.
Carpenter Ant Parent Colonies
Carpenter ants typically have a parent colony. The parent colony is often located in a tree, stump, or wood that is stacked within 100 meters of the house, or in wood/stumps that were buried in the yard when the house was constructed. Decorative wood landscape ties brought in to enhance the beauty of a yard or driveway may also be the source of a parent colony.
The parent colony contains the queen(s), young larvae, and workers, while the satellite contains the mature larvae, pupae, workers, and/or winged reproductives. Ants move back and forth from parent nest to satellite nest but just a few (less than 10%) will be visible foraging for food. Occasionally the carpenter ants can be seen moving mature larvae (white and grub-like) or pupae (papery or leathery-looking cocoons). When close to the core of the colony, you may find the cast-off coverings of the pupae.
The colony does not produce reproductives (winged males and queens) until it is approximately 3 years old and contains thousands of workers.
Carpenter Ant Satellite Colonies
When the colony grows larger and needs room to expand, satellite colonies are established. These satellite colonies often develop in nearby structures presumably because they offer warm protection.
Satellite colonies are started by reproductive carpenter ants (winged males and females), who leave the parent nest as early as February if the nest is in a heated structure. Those living outside in logs and stumps will not swarm (mate) until spring is firmly established. The fertilized queens must then find wet wood to establish their new colony.
Carpenter Ant Food Source
The natural food for carpenter ants consists mainly of other insects and honeydew excretions from aphids. They are also attracted to other sweet materials such as decaying fruits.
Carpenter Ant Activity
Carpenter ants are generally active along their trails from April to mid-October. These trails follow natural contours and lines of least resistance and are also frequently cut across lawns. Traffic on these trails may be noticeable during the day, but peak traffic occurs after sunset and continues throughout the night.
Carpenter Ant Queen
The queen of a carpenter ant colony can live up to 25 years, and her only job after laying and caring for the initial batch of ants is laying eggs. During the queen’s lifespan, she can lay hundreds of thousands of eggs.
As the name suggests, these reddish-brown ants are generally found along pavement but they can infiltrate other areas as well. Luckily, they are mainly a nuisance pest and do not cause structural damage to your home.
Pavement Ant Food Source
Pavement ants have a large appetite and can eat almost anything.
Tips to Prevent Pavement Ants From Entering your Home
- Remove trees and shrubs that consistently host ants and are adjacent to houses.
- Manage honeydew-producing insects such as aphids. Honeydew producers provide a great source of food for ants, and as such, ants will protect these pests from natural enemies making many pest problems worse.
- Band tree trunks with sticky substances such as Tanglefoot.
- Trim branches to keep them from touching structures or plants so that ants are forced to climb up the trunk through the Tanglefoot.
- Protect young or sensitive trees from possible injury by wrapping the trunk with a collar of heavy paper, duct tape, or fabric tree wrap and coating this with the sticky material. Check the sticky material every 1 to 2 weeks and stir it with a stick to prevent it from getting clogged with debris, allowing ants to cross.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants are dark red or black and release an odor that smells like rotten coconuts. Although they make their nests outdoors, they will enter your home if given a chance.
Once in your house, they are a very difficult ant to control because of their polymorphic behaviors. It is highly recommended to use the services of a pest control professional.
Odorous House Ant Characteristics
- Workers ants are all the same size: 1/8-inch long
- Dark brown to shiny black in colour
- Petiole with 1 node, hidden by abdomen
- Thorax is uneven in shape when viewed from the side
- Very strong odor when crushed
Odorous House Ant Trails
They travel in both wandering patterns and set trails. They often form trails along tree branches, foundations, sidewalks, baseboards, and along the edges of carpets.
Odorous House Ant Nests
Odorous house ants live in shallow nests in the soil beneath stones, wood, or debris. They build their nests in a variety of habitats, including in wooded areas, on beaches, in wall voids, and around water pipes and heaters.
Odorous House Ant Colonies
These ants form huge colonies, with up to 10,000 workers and several queens.
Odorous House Ant Food Sources
When outdoors, odorous ants feed primarily on other insects, both dead and alive, favoring aphid and scale honeydew. When inside homes, odorous ants forage primarily for sweets.
Odorous House Ant Defence Mechanism
When odorous house ants are disturbed, they become erratic with their abdomens raised in the air, but they do not sting or bite.
Thatcher ants are large in size and are red and black. They get their name from the nests they create, which are massive mounds that appear to be thatched.
Thatcher Ant Nests
Thatching or “mound ants” get their name because they construct mounds from small sticks, grass stems, leaves, and pine or fir needles. They may also nest in decayed logs.
Thatcher Ant Concerns
Under most circumstances, thatching ants are considered beneficial because they are fierce predators of other insects. However, when they build nests in lawns, rockeries, picnic areas, or other areas of human habitation, they can become a severe annoyance.
In addition to being a nuisance, thatching ants are often injurious to seedling trees or plants near their nests. The ants have been known to damage the buds of fruit trees in the spring, including apple and pear trees. Landscapes can also be visually disrupted by the presence of their mounds.
Thatcher Ant Bites
Physical contact with thatcher ants can be very displeasing as they can bite quite hard and usually spray the area they have bitten with formic acid. The acid produces a painful sensation that can result in blistering of the skin if it is not washed.
Thatcher Ant Herding
An interesting phenomenon demonstrated by thatching ants, as well as other ants, is the habit of “herding” and maintaining aphid colonies on trees, shrubs, and weeds. This occasionally leads to an aphid problem because, while keeping aphids for their sweet honeydew, they protect the aphids against natural control organisms such as wasps and ladybird beetles.