5 Pests Every Calgary Home Owner Needs to be Aware of [2023 UPDATE]

Carpenter Ants

What are they? 

Carpenter ants are large, black or brown ants that build nests inside wood, typically decaying wood that has been softened by fungus or rot. Some carpenter ants will have wings and be able to fly, while others will not. Like termites, these pests can cause serious structural damage if left unchecked. Be careful around these ants as they can bite if provoked. If you see larger, winged ants around your home, especially in the springtime, that is an indication that you likely have carpenter ants nesting on your home or property. 

Why are they bad? 

Carpenter ants are bad for a number of reasons. Since most ants are pretty well harmless, carpenter ants are often left untreated, or even worse, tackled with store bought products. Most people identify carpenter ants and seek treatment once they see ‘swarmers’ (ants with wings), however they do not develop wings until the colony has been established for at least 2 years, which means the infestation is likely quite severe and structural damage has already occurred. Carpenter ants will establish a colony by hollowing out decaying wood, generally from rot, water damage, or fungus, but after the colony matures they will begin expanding into sound wood. Retaining walls, decks, wall voids (especially behind kitchens and bathrooms where water damage is common), and fallen trees are where you can expect to locate carpenter ant nests on the property. 

What can you do to prevent them? 

There are a number of best practices you can take to greatly reduce your risk of carpenter ants, however if you live in an area near forests, ravines or lots of trees, then it can be extremely difficult to prevent carpenter ants without the use of commercial grade pesticides. 

The first thing is to eliminate possible nesting sites on the property. This includes removing dead wood, such as fire wood, tree stumps, and fallen trees. Store firewood off the ground and away from the home. The next step is to seal anything that cannot be removed, such as retaining walls, decks and fences. Properly treating the wood will prevent rot, which is one of the main attractants for carpenter ants.

If you locate a carpenter ant colony on the property, apply a non-repellent pesticide on the colony repeatedly until you have eliminated all activity. Always follow the label when using pesticides and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.

With pests such as carpenter ants, we strongly advise you to contract professional help in eliminating them. Make sure the company you choose to work with has experience dealing with these ants as they should not be treated the same way as regular ants. Also, make sure the company will warranty their work, as carpenter ants often require many follow up visits which can end up costing you a fortune if that isn’t included in your package.

How do we treat carpenter ants?
  1. We apply a commercial non-repellent insecticide around the foundation of the home. This will eliminate ants as they come outside to gather food, slowly eliminating the colony. This will also prevent new colonies from being established as ants will not be able to enter the home. 
  2. We use liquid, gel & granular baits around the outside of the home. These are attractive food sources for the ants, which will gather the products and bring them back into the nest to feed to the other ants. After 3-5 days, all ants that consume these products will die. 
  3. We locate all nests on the property (usually there are multiple colonies, both inside and outside) and apply commercial insecticides to them to eliminate them. If colonies inside of the walls persist, this will typically require us to drill holes in the wall in order to inject products into the nest and ensure we get rid of them. 

Mice & Voles

What are they?

In Alberta, there are seven species of mice and 12 species of voles. The most troublesome of these are the house mouse, the white-footed mouse, and the meadow vole (also known as the field mouse). 

Why are they bad?

Mice deposit about 18,000 droppings per year, which can contaminate food and living areas. Mice also gnaw on electric wiring, causing several many every year in Alberta, as well as destroying appliances, vehicles, and electronics. Mice also transmit over 200 pathogens, including salmonellosis, rickettsialpox and hantavirus. Mice also carry tapeworms and roundworms, which are infectious to pets and humans. Mice will also chew on trees, also known as girdling, which can damage or even kill them. Another challenge with mice is that they will reproduce extremely fast, having over 150 babies per year. Once mice get inside, especially if undetected, they will cause an infestation in a matter of months. 

What can you do to prevent them?
  • Remove food sources and seal off access for mice around your home
  • Clean up mouse-contaminated areas by using hantavirus remediation techniques (heavy bleach spraying). Information on how to clean up droppings can be found here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/Advisories/ne-pha-hantavirus-protection.pdf
  • Handle mice and other rodents with gloved hands
  • Always avoid sweeping or vacuuming droppings, and wear a high efficiency, particulate respirator
  • Do not trap or keep mice
  • De-worm household pets regularly 

We recommend having a professional rodent service at your home year-round. This is an inexpensive program where commercial-grade boxes are placed around the outside of your home to capture mice before they can enter your home, much like you see outside restaurants and commercial kitchens. Ensure that the provider you choose has a warranty for their services, as mice can cost thousands of dollars to remove if they come inside. 

Pharaoh Ants

What are they? 

Pharaoh ants are small (1.5mm long) ants that live in very small multi-colonies. Their colour ranges from yellow to light brown to red. They like to be near warm moist areas, most often nesting in hard to reach areas, such as behind baseboards, in furniture, under floors, between linens and in wall voids. 

Why are they bad? 

Pharaoh ants are so small that they can get into even the most secure food packaging, which means that they can contaminate pretty much any household food source. Pharaoh ants, once inside, multiply very rapidly. A single colony can populate an entire large office building in less than six months. They are very difficult to get rid of. If you apply pesticides, they will do what is called ‘budding’ and fragment their colony into 7-10 smaller colonies in new locations. This will give the appearance that they are gone for about 2 weeks while they relocate, but the colony will still be there. 

What can you do to prevent them?
  • Keep food in sealed containers
  • Seal cracks and crevices where the ants can live
  • Fix water taps if they leak – pharaoh ants like water
  • Keep pet food covered when your pets aren’t eating – pharaoh ants are attracted to pet food
  • Keep your home clean and clean your floors regularly 
  • Don’t leave food out for longer than 2 hours

DO NOT TREAT PHARAOH ANTS YOURSELF. They are the most uncommon pest on this list, however if you do have them call a professional exterminator who has experience dealing with these. Most insecticides will make the problem much worse. A proper baiting program should be used to eliminate them.

Bald Faced Hornets

What are they?

Bald-faced hornets are larger, black and white hornets that are common throughout Alberta. Much like yellowjackets, they build paper nests, usually in trees, shrubs, overhangs, utility poles, houses, sheds or other structures. These nests can get quite large, often we find nests that are volleyball sized. 

Why are they bad?

Bald-faced hornets are very aggressive and will attack anyone that invades their space, unlike most other stinging insects which will only sting if you actually touch their nest or make them feel extremely threatened. These hornets have smooth stingers, so they can sting over and over again, whereas other stinging insects can only sting once. Bald-faced hornets will often attack in large numbers, which can increase their danger. 

What can I do to prevent them?

Wasps are very difficult to prevent, and aside from hanging disposable wasp traps around your property there is not much you can do. If you want to remove a nest yourself, always wear a sting-proof bee suit that has full-body coverage when removing nests, even if you do it in the middle of the night when they are least active. Spray the nest with standard wasp spray until the activity ceases, and then remove the nest and carefully dispose of it. 


Call us today to have any of these 5 pests taken care of by one of our expert technicians! 587-834-4970