What species of ants are found in Quebec?
Ants are social insects that live in colonies and belong to the order Hymenoptera, like bees and wasps. Approximately 12,000 species of ants have been identified worldwide to date, but scientists agree that there are probably as many as 15,000. In Quebec alone, more than 100 species have been observed over the years.
However, just three species are responsible for most calls to E.Exterminateur’s pest control services:
- Carpenter ants
- Pavement ants
- Pharaoh ants
In this article, our pest experts will present these 3 species of ants in detail. You will learn everything there is to know about their appearance, life cycle, habitat and diet.
Carpenter ants are one of the most common species of ants in Quebec. They are known to be one of the types of insects that causes the most damage when infesting a building.
Carpenter ants are usually black in colour, but can be tinted slightly red or brown depending on the variety.
The males of the species have a small head and measure between 9 mm and 10 mm. Female carpenter ants are either workers or queens. Workers are about 6 mm long, while queens can reach almost 13 mm in length.
Wondering whether carpenter ants in Quebec have wings? Males have two pairs of wings, just like the queens. The nurse, forager and soldier worker ants only have their 6 legs to get around.
Carpenter ants mate in spring. Young queens mate in full flight with a single male, who dies shortly after. The queen will then lose her wings and start looking for a place to establish her colony. She will generally choose a tree trunk, tree stump or any other piece of damp or brittle wood. Once settled, the queen will begin producing workers who will then take over the work of the ant’s nest.
Carpenter ant larvae look like small white worms. They go through 4 larval stages before spinning themselves into a cocoon to pupate. A few days later, having reached the pupal stage, the insects will look like adults but will still be white and unable to move. It will take another few days for them to develop their adult colouring and begin to walk.
After 3 to 6 years, a colony of carpenter ants will have over 2,000 workers. At that point, the queen will begin to produce males and future queens at the end of the summer.
Carpenter ants live in damp or decaying wood. In Quebec, their main habitat is the forest. However, colonies may establish themselves near dwellings or in the wooden elements of houses.
Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites do. They just dig into the wood to make their homes.
In forests, carpenter ants feed on honeydew, plant juices, insects and even small invertebrates. Those that colonize inhabited buildings will eat almost anything they can find in a pantry.
Important information about carpenter ants
If you see carpenter ants in spring or summer, don’t panic. They may just be looking for food. However, if you see them in winter, a time when they should be inactive, you may want to investigate or contact an extermination service in Quebec.
As a carpenter ant nest expands, the workers will start attacking sound wood, such as the structural components of a building, which may threaten their integrity.
Tetramorium caespitum, commonly known as the pavement ant, is another species that has adapted to Quebec and can now be found throughout the majority of the territory.
Pavement ants are brown or black in colour. Their head and thorax are marked by parallel lines.
The workers of this species are small, between 2.5 mm and 3 mm long. The queens are bigger and can reach up to 8 mm in length.
Only the males and queens are born with wings.
Pavement ants reproduce extremely quickly. Males mate with the queens throughout the spring. After mating, the males die and the queens lose their wings.
The fertilized queens then look for a place to build a nest and lay their first eggs. They can lay around 5 to 20 eggs per day. Larvae hatch from the eggs, are cared for by the workers and reach maturity after about 40 days.
The worker ants have a life span of approximately 7 years. The queens can live from 10 to 17 years. Generally, there are 3,000 to 4,000 pavement ants in a colony.
Although they aren’t native to Quebec, pavement ants have adapted well to the province’s climate. Colonies are usually found in sandy soil under concrete slabs, under stones and on the pavement. Their nests can be easily spotted due to the little mounds they make on the pavement.
Occasionally, pavement ants can also nest in walls, under foundations, in building insulation or underneath floors.
Pavement ants are constantly looking for food. They love fatty and sweet foods. They may enter your home to get to the pantry or garbage, or seek you out during a picnic.
They also eat seeds, aphid honeydew and small insects.
Important information about pavement ants
The presence of pavement ants on a property can be devastating. The structure of their nests degrades natural and artificial surfaces. They alter the appearance of landscaped spaces like grass, gardens and vegetable patches.
High numbers of pavement ants can also attract birds and other pests.
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The pharaoh ant (monomorium pharaonis) is another species of ant commonly found in Quebec that exterminators often encounter.
Pharaoh ants are smaller than most other ant species. The sterile female workers measure between 1.5 mm and 2.5 mm long, the queens are generally 3.5 mm to 5 mm long, and the males are about 2.8 mm long.
They are pale yellow to brown in color, with a slightly darker abdomen. Another distinctive feature of pharaoh ants is the two small bumps on their nodes (The smallest part of the ant, which connects the thorax to the abdomen).
The males and queens are born with wings, but the queens lose them after mating.
Pharaoh ants live in huge colonies that can have more than 300,000 individuals and multiple queens. Queens and males mate in the nest. The males die shortly after. The queens keep the sperm alive in a spermatheca in their abdomens.
The queens then start laying eggs at a rate of 2 per day for around 200 days, which is their lifespan. Fertilized eggs produce queens, while unfertilized ones produce males. It takes 38 days for the larvae to complete all the stages of their development: larvae, pre-pupae, pupae, and adult.
Workers take care of the nest, the larvae and the young queens. They also move some of the eggs produced by the queens to new locations in order to colonize new territories.
Pharaoh ants likely originated in tropical Africa. Those living in Quebec don’t really build nests—they settle in heated buildings where they can find warmth and food.
Pharaoh ants feed on sweet, fatty and protein-rich foods. That’s why they often take up residence in restaurants, bakeries and other businesses in the food industry.
Otherwise, they also eat small insects and their eggs.
Important information about pharaoh ants
Since pharaoh ants work together and split off to form multiple colonies, it is essential to destroy the main nest and all satellite nests in order to eliminate an infestation. If there are any nests left after an ant extermination procedure, the colonies will simply multiply and increase the ant population in your home or business.
E.Exterminateur: eliminate ants, regardless of the species
We hope you found this information useful. For example, if you have noticed ants on your property and are wondering whether you should be concerned, this article should give you a starting point to assess the situation.
If you have ascertained that there is likely an ant colony on your property or in your home, don’t wait—contact us before it causes any damage. We offer customized solutions, including extermination and prevention of future infestations.