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How to get rid of carpenter ants at your cottage

If you’ve spotted carpenter ants inside your home or cottage recently, it might be a sign that there’s an infestation. Unfortunately, ants sighted during the winter months are likely nesting in your wall voids or hollow doors, so they’re not just temporary visitors from the garden. 

Besides being a nuisance, carpenter ants can also cause serious damage to your property. Here’s how you can get rid of this common pest and prevent future infestations. 

What are they?

In Canada, you’ll typically find black carpenter ants and red carpenter ants; both have dark brown or black bodies, but red carpenter ants have a reddish-brown thorax and head. Ranging from a quarter-inch to one inch long, they’re visibly larger than the average field or pavement ant. They have bent antennae and narrow waists, and reproductive carpenter ants are winged. 

What do they eat?

Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood. But they will burrow into dead or damp wood to dig tunnels (also referred to as galleries) and nest, weakening structures and leaving telltale piles of sawdust in their wake. Carpenter ants are omnivores, and they’ll eat plant matter, a sugary aphid secretion called “honeydew,” insects, fruit, and any garbage or food that’s lying around. 

Where do they like to hide?

Carpenter ants are drawn to damp, damaged wood—outdoors, you may find them nesting in tree stumps, decaying trees, and logs. Wooden decks and fences are other common outdoor targets. 

Indoors, once they’ve found their way into your cottage, these ants will seek out wood that has been exposed to moisture, setting up a smaller “satellite” colony in your attic, walls, doors, and floors—signs of damaged woodwork and small sawdust-like piles can help you locate and identify a carpenter ant nest inside your property. 

What kind of damage can they cause?

Carpenter ants may bite you in self-defence, and none of us want an army of ants in our kitchen, but the biggest threat is that, over time, an indoor colony could cause serious damage to your cottage by tunneling through structural wood. 

How can you get rid of them?

To get rid of carpenter ants, start with a direct treatment. Raid Ant Roach & Earwig Insect Killer 2 is a spray that works on contact and can be used indoors. A bait system like Raid Max Double Control Ant Baits 2 can also help you address the infestation, and it’s an especially good choice if you can’t locate the nest. 

Once you’ve dealt with the indoor pests, address the outside parent colony and work to discourage new visitors. There are many ways that carpenter ants can get into your cottage, and it’s important to seal any holes or cracks in or around doors, windows, foundations, and exterior walls. Be careful when bringing firewood indoors, store log piles away from your outside walls, and cut back any tree branches that are touching your buildings. 

Finally, address any damp areas or water leaks inside your cottage, making sure you’re storing food in airtight containers and regularly cleaning up any crumbs or food sources that might attract ants.