“We didn’t notice them before, but my boyfriend pointed them out and after that we were like 'holy'. On the windows, floors — they were everywhere.”

It was her first night moving into London Hall when second-year nursing student Erin Tester found small black ants inside her suite. With no idea how they got there, she only knew that she and her roommates had ants. 

And let’s face it, it's not just Tester — London has an ant problem.

Ontario’s muggy and sweltering summers, combined with the wooden framework of old houses around Western University’s campus, allows these little bugs to thrive during the warmer seasons.

The most common culprits are carpenter ants. These ants are small in size and are known for creating homes within our wooden walls. They commonly fester around moist places like washrooms, sinks or other water appliances.

And while their mere presence is alarming, carpenter ants are most famous for the destruction they leave in their wake. In building their nests, they damage the structure of houses by cutting the wood to create tunnels and homes.

The worst part is, you probably won’t notice them until it’s a season too late.

Because these ants hibernate in the winter, often their presence often goes undetected until the warmer seasons, and by that time they’ve already established themselves as your rent-free roommates.

“If you spill any food and miss cleaning it up, you’ll see a black cluster over it in no time,” said Tester.

Even without making a mess ants seemed to persistently pop up in her shower, in the kitchen and around her oven. Despite constantly cleaning the house, the ants still appear. 

With easy-to-miss signs like small piles of sawdust, or faint rustling noises in your walls, it’s important to know how to nip this problem in the bud before it gets out of hand.

What you can do

First, contact your landlord.

They could help by sending an exterminator, or at least someone who can validate the issue or its source. And once the source is identified, the massacre can begin.

The easiest and most budget-friendly option to get rid of these pests are ant bait traps. Placing bait around the house, or near their foraging areas, will have ants carrying the bait back to their nest to feed the entire colony. This will effectively poison the source of your problem, and could render your house ant-free.

But the most effective way to eliminate the ants is to target their nest — or worse, nests. Applying a chemical insecticide on their nest (usually done by pest control) will easily get rid of the carpenter ants in no time. For a non-chemical approach, you can replace the wood where they're nesting — but it's a costlier option your landlord may not be inclined to try.

As you explore housing options in the new year — be aware of who, or what, else you might be living with.

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