Ant Control: Their Role in the Ecosystem

Ants are so small that half the time we don’t even notice them, and when we do it’s usually because they’re snaking their way across the kitchen counter carrying crumbs to their nest. But they are in fact the most abundant insect on earth and their population is estimated at around one quadrillion! When you take the time to think about them, ants are fascinating insects; they are organized, industrious, social, and can survive in almost any climate. They are found all around the globe and are essential to a healthy eco-system. Without ants, many animal and plant species would quickly become extinct.

Why are ants important to the eco-system?

  • Ants are decomposers and help keep the environment clean. They feed on organic waste, insects and dead animals. Carpenter ants, which make their nests in dead or diseased wood, can considerably accelerate the breakdown of rotting timber.
  • Ants are both predator and prey. They eat other insects, their eggs and larvae, but they are also food for many animals, including birds, raccoons and insectivorous insects.
  • Ants, like earthworms, help to aerate the soil by digging galleries and tunnels. They also till the soil by moving it around and taking pebbles and particles to the surface.
  • Ants help disperse seeds, leaves, nectar, and fungi by carrying it to their nests.
  • Certain plants depend on ants for pollination.
  • Ants carry organic matter up into the branches of trees, aiding pollination and encouraging the formation of “ant gardens” that provide sustenance for other animals and insects.  

Why is effective ant control important for your home?

While ants are an important part of a healthy eco-system, they are not necessarily good for the health of your house. Carpenter ants use their strong jaws to chew through wood and make nests, consisting of numerous tunnels and passages, in your deck, sidings, window and door frames, and wooden floorboards. Over time this can cause extensive, and expensive, damage to your home and compromise its structural integrity, making carpenter ants one of the greatest threats to properties in Canada. Always be on the lookout for small piles of sawdust below your windows, doors or deck. This is the chewed up wood that the carpenter ants have discarded while tunnelling through the wood in your home and can be indicative of an infestation.

Tips to control ants and prevent an ant infestation

  • Don’t provide a convenient nesting place for carpenter ants, remove all wood and decaying vegetation from the foundation of your home.
  • Remove all tree stumps and dead branches from your property.
  • Don’t store firewood and leftover building materials up against your house.
  • Trim tree branches and plants away from your house to eliminate convenient ant ‘bridges’ that can give ant’s access to your home.
  • Repair cracks, gaps, and crevices that ants can use to enter your home.
  • Carpenter ants need a constant source of water and like to make nests in areas where wood is damp and easy to mine to ensure that there is no source of moisture or standing water in your crawl space, basement, or attic.
  • Repair any leaking taps and pipes in your bathroom, kitchen, and basement.

It is important to have your home regularly inspected to identify ant infestations, potential nesting sites, and damage already caused by these industrious little insects. This is a necessary but time-consuming exercise that is best carried out by a trained pest control technician. They know where to look and how to identify ant nests. There could easily be more than one ant colony making themselves at home on your property, both inside and out, and in order to eliminate the threat, all nests need to be dealt with.

Truly Nolen can help you with all your ant control needs throughout the year and will provide you with a customized treatment plan.