a carpenter ant crawling on a plastic deck chair

For cottagers in Ontario, carpenter ants are almost a given inside and outside your cottage, from spring to fall.

Indoors, these ants seem to be everywhere, coming in an endless parade - scurrying across the floor, beds and furniture, hanging out around garbage bins and sinks and crawling on uncovered food or bars of soap.

For many, seeing these larger ants inside, and in large numbers, can be alarming. It makes them wonder how they got inside, how many more are there, and how to get rid of them

Are Carpenter Ants Really That Bad?

Yes. These cottage pests infest wood, and depending on their infestation size, can cause mild to severe structural damage. 

Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites who eat the wood they infest. Carpenter ants don’t eat wood, rather they live in moist or rotten wood, which is easy to burrow through and build their nests and colonies in. As their colonies grow, they infest dry, undamaged wood, like load bearing beams or foundations. They will also eat Styrofoam, stucco and insulation.

While their ideal habitat is outdoors nesting in damp and decaying wood like logs, stumps, wood piles and dead trees, they are attracted to wood, plain and simple. And if the wood in your cottage foundation, floors, walls, windows, doors, deck or dock is deemed inhabitable, they will invade, nest and build their colonies. So, if you’re seeing a large number of carpenter ants outside or inside your cottage that is a sign that there is decaying wood in or around your cottage.

Unfortunately, all too often the damage carpenter ants cause goes unnoticed until it’s severe and costly.

a group of carpenter ants carrying a egg around

How Can I Tell if I Have Carpenter Ants?

The first and most important thing to do is to determine if the type of ant bothering you is in fact a carpenter ant. Ants have been around since the dawn of the dinosaurs and there are around 13,000 different types of ants in the world. What works to get rid of some ant species, does not work on other ant types, so it’s imperative that the ant type be identified correctly.

Carpenter ants have distinguishing features that make them easy to identify:

a close up image of a single carpenter ant

Visit our pest library to learn more about ants and the most common types in Ontario.

Once you have confirmed you have carpenter ants, the next important thing to do is to try to find their nest. Finding the nest will give you a better sense of any damage already done and the severity of the actual carpenter ant infestation. 

Here are tips to help you locate a carpenter ant nest in your cottage:

How to Prevent Carpenter Ants at the Cottage:

To prevent carpenter ants from infesting your cottage, follow these tips which help prevent easy entry indoors and create less favourable living conditions for them:

How Do I Get Rid of Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants, and ants in general, can be very difficult to get rid of once an infestation has taken place. This is because their nests are challenging to locate, whether inside or outside your cottage, and by the time an issue is found, the population has reached infestation levels.

If carpenter ants have nested outside your cottage but are coming indoors it’s likely because they are finding a readily available food source, which they are bringing back to their nest.  To keep them from coming back in, make your cottage less inhabitable and accessible by implementing the carpenter ant prevention tips above (which will also help you keep other cottage pests like mice, wood cockroaches, spiders and mosquitoes).

If a nest is found indoors, you can try to use a vacuum to suck up the ant population. Depending on the size of the ant colony and how elaborate and extensive their nest is, this may not help eliminate all of the carpenter ants infesting your cottage. Overall, DIY methods are all too often not successful and off-the-shelf ant bait traps (liquid or powder) are often ignored by carpenter ants and ineffective in eliminating them.

While prevention is key, in some situations you may take all the preventative measures possible and still find you have a carpenter ant infestation and ongoing issues, which can never be able to 100% resolved. Do take comfort in knowing that there are effective ways to control and manage these pests so that your cottage is more protected, and your cottage living experience is more relaxing and stress-free.

If you think you have a carpenter ant infestation, your best course of action is to call a trusted professional pest management company who specializes in cottage living pest control, like Environmental Pest Control. We’d be happy to help you address carpenter ant issues (and other common nuisance pests), so you can focus on enjoying your summer at the cottage.


Call 1 (800) 263-5055

Our Professional Team is Happy to Help!