For those that own recreational real estate in Ontario, every summer can be an intense battle against Carpenter Ants at the cottage. Carpenter ants are the big black ones that nest in moist, rotting wood. They can cause a lot of damage if they move into your cottage. These ants will hit their peak in late June and early July. Unless it is a short winter and then you will see the ants appear earlier in the spring (no danger of that this year!).
If you have damp or decaying wood inside your cottage, expect the carpenter ants to show up and set up house. If you see a lot of Carpenter ants flying around the cottage in the early spring, chances are, there is already a nest in your home.
Another way to tell if an ant colony has set up inside of your cottage is to watch the worker ants when they are carrying food. If they are carrying it somewhere inside of your cabin, the nest is inside. If you see them carrying the food outside, there is still a good chance that they have set up inside of some rotten wood, outside of the cottage.
A VERY bad sign is when you see the carpenter ants carrying white eggs and/or larvae into your cottage. This means they are moving the nest from the bush into your cottage.
Finally, another sure sign that the ants have already moved in are small deposits of sawdust inside the cottage. This is where the ants have dumped the wood they removed for their network of tunnels.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THE ANTS?
Ant Bait and Insecticide
Place the traps and liquid bait or powder round the inside of your cottage where you see the most activity. You should also place the traps around the outside of your recreational home where you suspect the carpenter ants entering the house. Try to find the nest outside the cottage and spray them there. The only way to stop the annual battle with the ants is to find their nest and destroy it.
If you are using insecticides and bait, do not spray the poison near the food baits. The idea is that the ant will carry the poison food back inside their colony. This process does take a few weeks. It is important to remember to replenish the bait in the spot that the ants appear to be feeding on it.
Once you have found the nest and destroyed it, you must replace the rotten wood that was so attractive to the ants. If the colony has been there for many years and the entire cottage is in bad shape, you will just have to try to battle the ants each year or build a new cottage.
Remember to store firewood away from the home and remove any old tree stumps that look perfect for an ant colony. Above all, be vigilant, if you see some ants starting to make your home their home, it is time to take action. DON’T WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR – it will be too late. You will be sharing your cottage country real estate with ants!