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Edmonton Exterminators Ltd.

How to Get Rid of Ants

Ant removal in Edmonton and communities around Edmonton is a very common reason we get calls here at Edmonton Exterminators. Removing an ant problem from both inside and outside your home can sometimes be a relatively simple procedure. However depending on the ant species you are dealing with and some details of the situation, treating an ant problem can be challenging. Improper treatment can worsen the situation, resulting in things such as one colony splitting into multiple colonies or negative results from toxins to vegetation, wildlife, pets or children in the areas you’re treating. With this in mind, the following information is for educational purposes, and shouldn’t be considered as complete information for safety when using home remedies, or retail chemicals for DIY pest treatment.

To help you understand what kind of ants you may have and how concerned you should be about potential damage to your property or home, let’s start by sharing what we have learned in our years of treating ant problems in Edmonton and area.


8 Steps to Get Rid of Ants

  1. Asses the ENTIRE situation
    • To come up with a safe & effective plan to rid your property of an ant problem, we recommend taking time for a careful and thorough assessment. Carefully do your best to discover the next steps
  2. Identify what species of ants are you dealing with
    • All ant species have a complex social structure, and they’re notoriously skillful survivors. Each species of ants come with their own challenges for treatment.
  3. Determine where the ants are living and feeding, and their paths between
    • Are you finding the ants inside, or outside?
    • Are there any visible reasons for why they’ve chosen the current locations? -You will want to remove this, to deter re-infestation.
    • Don’t stop at the location you noticed the ants. Inspect your entire property, and if possible, adjacent properties.
  4. Determine if ants have also infiltrated hidden spaces such as wall voids, wooden structures or attic spaces
    • Generally, treating ants, just where you happen to see them will not effectively remove the problem. Be a detective.
  5. Look for other colonies
    • Ant kingdoms often consist of more than one colony. Often referred to as the ‘main colony’ and ‘satellite colonies’
  6. Create a treatment plan
    • Now that you’ve assessed the situation, it’s time to plan how to resolve it.
    • In general, we find that bating techniques such as deployed bate canisters or boric acid (Borax) aren’t successful, as it kills the deployed workers too effectively, resulting in low success rate of taking out the colony and the queen.
    • Chemicals that are picked up as the ants walk through it tend to work better than baiting. The chemicals we use aren’t available to the general public, but you can try permethrin. *Note: Permethrin has a lasting sour odour.
  7. Double-check your safety considerations
    • Have you carefully considered how to safely deploy any chemicals, with consideration of children, pets, plants and wildlife in the area? *For example, cats like to chew on grass blades, and bees like to get all up in flower petals and children can be unpredictable. Use treatment with care.
    • Chemicals such as permethrin should also be used with proper safety precautions. Particularly, if you are mixing from concentrate and spraying.
  8. Deploy your plan!
    • Remember, especially with retail or home remedy treatments results will vary. Assess the results after 14 days, and then determine if further or revised treatment is required.
    • Of course, if you decide to call in a professional, we’re ready and waiting!

What kind of Ants are in Edmonton Area?

Let’s take an in-depth look at one of the primary considerations for your ant control plan. What species are you dealing with?

Climate profiles across Alberta vary from dry to humid. Due to these differences in climate, we find different species of ants, depending on which area of Alberta you are in. Some species of ants in Alberta are more destructive than others. We will discuss the 3 most common kinds of ants in Edmonton area. Carpenter ants, Pharaoh ants and pavement ants. (Note that pavement ants isn’t actually a species, but a general term for various similar species.)

Identifying and understanding the ant species you’re dealing with will help you identify what type of ant problem you have, how much damage they can cause, and some options for ant removal.


Pavement Ants

Some species such as pavement ants, tend to be common just about everywhere. The term “pavement ant” is actually a broad term that refers to a group of ant species. These small ant species tend to be found along driveways, sidewalks and can be especially troublesome in patios constructed with paving stones. However, you can also often find pavement ants in lawns and around the base of trees.

Often, in the warmer months pavement ants will find their way into buildings via basements, slabs and crawl spaces. In some situations, exterior treatments may be necessary to prevent recurrences of ants in your home. In other cases, the treatment for ant problems may be primarily around the interior perimeter of your home, cottage or business.

Trail of pavement ants

Pavement Ants

Photo of a carpenter ant. Side view.

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter Ants

We find carpenter ants in Edmonton and across most of Alberta. This species of ant is particularly troublesome and destructive to property. They are physically the largest ant living in the province. As Tom, one of the family/owners here at Edmonton Exterminators has expressed, if you get a close look at an ant and it looks like it’s been on steroids and hitting the gym, you just found a carpenter ant!


Facts about Carpenter Ants

  • Carpenter ants seek out forms of unsound wood(such as wet wood) to inhabit and start reproductive colonies. Then, once established, they branch out to nearby sound wood structures, chewing and hollowing out galleries in the walls and wooden foundations.
  • They can cause severe damage, which can take years to occur, but it is the structural portion of a building that is generally most affected. *Note: Because of this, early detection and treatment are strongly recommended when it comes to carpenter ants.
  • Carpenter ants generally have a main reproductive colony where the original queen resides, plus satellite colonies to support the founding colony. Besides the evolving destruction caused by carpenter ants, the longer they have to flourish, the more potential satellite colonies there may be to treat.

How to Prevent Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants thrive with there is damp, rotting or unsound wood to nest in. So, one of the most effective ways to abound infestation is to remove any unsound wood. Especially if this wood is part of a building.


How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Because of carpenter ants’ complex social structure and destructive activity, the removal and prevention of the infestation are often more in-depth than simply treating the areas where you see the ants. If you notice possible carpenter ant activity in or around your home or business, we advise that you reach out to a pest control company with experience in dealing with carpenter ants.

If you do decide to try to treat them yourself, avoid bating techniques such as Borax or the deployable bait canisters. Tactical spraying of chemicals such as permethrin is generally more effective. Be sure to follow the 8 steps outlined above and treat the places the ants walk through, and not just spots such as the surface of a nest.

If your DIY treatment doesn’t work, call us in. At Edmonton Exterminators, we use chemicals that aren’t publicly available, which are more effective and are odourless. Remember, early treatment is important with carpenter ants, as over time they can infiltrate large structures or properties. Especially if you have a treed property.


Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants get their name from a previous belief that they were one of the biblical plagues in Egypt. This determination stems from the tendency of this species to multiply in numbers and numbers of colonies when attacked by extermination techniques. When it comes to community survival, pharaoh ants are notoriously successful. Making them extremely difficult to treat. Read on to learn more.

Pharaoh Ant Facts

  • They live in multi-colonies, and each colony can potentially have multiple queens, making for efficient deployment of new sub-colonies.
  • They don’t bite
  • They are very tiny – 1.5 – 2mm in length
  • They are light in colour with red markings
  • In areas with cooler climates like Edmonton, Pharoah ants often shelter in human-inhabited buildings, to take advantage of the warmth.
  • Common places they will nest:
    • Behind baseboards
    • Under floors
    • Between blankets, or folds of other fabric or clothes
    • Inside furniture
Close-up photo of a pharaoh ant

Pharaoh Ant


Where do Pharaoh Ants Nest?

A favourite place to make a home is in restaurants and other structures where there are vast amounts of food readily available, in addition to the many options of crevices, cabinets, appliances and such in which to construct a hidden home.


What to do to prevent infestation:

  • Seal food
  • Seal up crevices in your home or business
  • Don’t leave food out
  • Clean often
  • Minimize clutter, to reduce hiding places
  • Resolve any moisture issues you may have in your home or business

How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants

Incorrect use of insecticides can result in portions of a colony separating and starting new colonies. This is called ‘budding’. Because they are so effective at spreading in this way, we suggest that if you have a pharaoh ant infestation that you call an experienced professional to treat them.


Advice on Insecticides and Home Remedies to Treat Ant Problems



Retail available insecticides today are for the most part all similar formulas based on the same active ingredient. If you do a little label reading, you will find that in Canada, permethrin is that ingredient. It has been around for quite some time and can effective in some cases. However retail strengths and commercial applicator strengths can vary.

Areas of effectiveness with permethrin can vary greatly as well. It is much better suited to indoors than out. The reason for this is its relatively short half-life in sunlight. What this means is its residual effectiveness depletes quickly. Ant colonies can be quite deep in the soil, in and around homes and businesses. By applying a product that breaks down too quickly, there is quite often not enough full strength residue carried back to nest to eliminate the queen.

In our experience at Edmonton Exterminators, we tend to favour other insecticides that contain much longer-lasting residues. This produces much better results. Unfortunately for the general public, most of these are not available over the counter here in Canada. The majority of domestic (over-the-counter) products will also have a lasting foul odour when applied. The commercial products we use, do not.


Home Remedies

One other topic of note on this subject is home remedies. There is a lot of promotion of “green” solutions to ant infestations, shared on the internet. While in principle this is a good idea, it is not always as safe as promoted. The boric acid and icing sugar treatment is the first that comes to mind. Boric acid when ingested by humans or pets can have very harmful effects. Mixing it with something sweet-tasting and applying it in open areas where both children and pets may gain access is not recommended.


So, Should I Use Boric Acid or an Insecticide?

Another consideration for a home remedy or any treatment you may find shared on the internet is that what is effective for one situation, may not be effective for another. One person may have had good results from any one type of treatment, but there are generally many more individuals that did not have success. The ones who don’t succeed are less likely to promote the lack of effectiveness online. This is why there seem to be so many ‘effective home remedies for ant control when surfing the internet.

When you’re deciding whether to use a home or ‘green’ remedy vs a retail available solution, consider that most of the retail available insecticides being used today have been designed and tested with safety in mind. However, do take care to use them both cautiously and wisely.