How to Get Rid of Ants

Ant removal in Medicine Hat and area around Medicine Hat is a very common reason we get calls. Removing an ant problem from both inside and outside your home can sometimes be a relatively simple procedure. However depending on the ant species you are dealing with and some details of the situation, treating an ant problem can be challenging. Improper treatment can worsen the situation, resulting in things such as one colony splitting into multiple colonies or toxins, potentially adversely affecting vegetation, wildlife, pets or children in the areas you’re treating. With this in mind, the following information is for educational purposes, and shouldn’t be considered as complete information for safety when using home remedies, or retail chemicals for DIY pest treatment.

To help you understand what kind of ants you may have and how concerned you should be about potential damage to your property or home, let’s start by sharing what we have learned in our years of treating ant problems in Medicine Hat and area.

Cropped red x transparent

Ant Removal, Step 1 – Identifiy the Ant Species

What kind of Ants are in Medicine Hat Area?

Let’s take an in-depth look at one of the primary considerations for your ant control plan. What species are you dealing with?

Climate profiles across Alberta vary from dry to humid. Due to these differences in climate, we find different species of ants, depending on which area of Alberta you are in. Some species of ants in Alberta are more destructive than others. We will discuss the 2 most common kinds of ants in Medicine Hat area. Pavement ants and Pharaoh ants. (Note that pavement ants isn’t actually a species, but a general term for various similar species.)

Identifying and understanding the ant species you’re dealing with will help you identify what type of ant problem you have, how much damage they can cause, and some options for ant removal.

Cropped red x transparent

Pavement Ants

Some species such as pavement ants, tend to be common just about everywhere. The term “pavement ant” is actually a broad term that refers to a group of ant species. These small ant species tend to be found along driveways, sidewalks and can be especially troublesome in patios constructed with paving stones. However, you can also often find pavement ants in lawns and around the base of trees.

Often, in the warmer months pavement ants will find their way into buildings via basements, slabs and crawl spaces. In some situations, exterior treatments may be necessary to prevent recurrences of ants in your home. In other cases, the treatment for ant problems may be primarily around the interior perimeter of your home, cottage or business.

Trail of pavement ants

Pavement Ants

Cropped red x transparent
Close-up photo of a pharaoh ant

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants get their name from a previous belief that they were one of the biblical plagues in Egypt. This determination stems from the tendency of this species to multiply in numbers and numbers of colonies when attacked by extermination techniques. When it comes to community survival, pharaoh ants are notoriously successful. Making them extremely difficult to treat. Read on to learn more.

Pharaoh Ant Facts

  • They live in multi-colonies, and each colony can potentially have multiple queens, making for efficient deployment of new sub-colonies.
  • They don’t bite
  • They are very tiny – 1.5 – 2mm in length
  • They are light in colour with red markings
  • In areas with cooler winters like Medicine Hat, Pharoah ants often shelter in human-inhabited buildings, to take advantage of the warmth.
  • Common places they will nest:
    • Behind baseboards
    • Under floors
    • Between blankets, or folds of other fabric or clothes
    • Inside furniture

Where do Pharaoh Ants Nest?

A favourite place to make a home is in restaurants and other structures where there are vast amounts of food readily available, in addition to the many options of crevices, cabinets, appliances and such in which to construct a hidden home.


What to do to prevent infestation:

  • Seal food
  • Seal up crevices in your home or business
  • Don’t leave food out
  • Clean often
  • Minimize clutter, to reduce hiding places
  • Resolve any moisture issues you may have in your home or business

How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants

Incorrect use of insecticides can result in portions of a colony separating and starting new colonies. This is called ‘budding’. Because they are so effective at spreading in this way, we suggest that if you have a pharaoh ant infestation that you call an experienced professional to treat them.

Cropped red x transparent

Advice on Insecticides and Home Remedies to Treat Ant Problems



Retail available insecticides today are for the most part all similar formulas based on the same active ingredient. If you do a little label reading, you will find that in Canada, permethrin is that ingredient. It has been around for quite some time and can effective in some cases. However retail strengths and commercial applicator strengths can vary.

Areas of effectiveness with permethrin can vary greatly as well. It is much better suited to indoors than out. The reason for this is its relatively short half-life in sunlight. What this means is its residual effectiveness depletes quickly. Ant colonies can be quite deep in the soil, in and around homes and businesses. By applying a product that breaks down too quickly, there is quite often not enough full strength residue carried back to nest to eliminate the queen.

In our experience at Southland Pest Control, we tend to favour other insecticides for outside use that contain longer-lasting residues. This produces much better results. Unfortunately for the general public, most of these are not available over the counter here in Canada. The majority of domestic (over-the-counter) products will also have a lasting foul odour when applied. The commercial products we use, do not.


Home Remedies

One other topic of note on this subject is home remedies. There is a lot of promotion of “green” solutions to ant infestations, shared on the internet. While in principle this is a good idea, it is not always as safe as promoted. The boric acid and icing sugar treatment is the first that comes to mind. Boric acid when ingested by humans or pets can have very harmful effects. Mixing it with something sweet-tasting and applying it in open areas where both children and pets may gain access is not recommended.


So, Should I Use Boric Acid or an Insecticide?

Another consideration for a home remedy or any treatment you may find shared on the internet is that what is effective for one situation, may not be effective for another. One person may have had good results from any one type of treatment, but there are generally many more individuals that did not have success. The ones who don’t succeed are less likely to promote the lack of effectiveness online. This is why there seem to be so many ‘effective home remedies for ant control when surfing the internet.

When you’re deciding whether to use a home or ‘green’ remedy vs a retail available solution, consider that most of the retail available insecticides being used today have been designed and tested with safety in mind. However, do take care to use them both cautiously and wisely.