Most ants commonly found in Canada are not aggressive, although some can sting. Ants should be tolerated as much as possible since they cause little damage in the garden. They can even be considered beneficial because they eat other insects like young silverfish and moths. Species known to invade homes in Canada include the carpenter ant, the little black ant, the odorous house ant, the thief ant, and the pharaoh ant. Carpenter ants are larger than other species, although the sizes of the workers vary. They can cause structural damage to homes as they destroy wood to make room for their nests. Piles of sawdust may mean you have carpenter ants. Prevention Ant colonies send out scouts to search for food. Ants are attracted to many types of food. They enjoy eating sugary and greasy foods (like peanut butter or crumbs) and are also attracted to the “honeydew” produced by aphids on infested houseplants. A successful scout leaves a scented trail for other workers to follow back to the food source. Removing access to food and water is the easiest way to avoid pest problems. Repair and seal as many visible cracks in the foundation and exterior walls of your house as possible. Indoors, caulk along baseboards, cracks, and crevices to keep ants from passing through your house. If needed, use duct tape or petroleum jelly to temporarily seal cracks. Ants will not cross sticky barriers. Try placing two-sided tape around the legs of plant stands.
Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are well known for their ability to damage wooden structures. They are also a nuisance in homes as they search for food. Carpenter ants eat both plant and animal matter. Protein and sweet foods found in and around homes also provide food for foraging workers. Carpenter ants build nests by burrowing into wood. They dig tunnels much longer than those created by termites. The wood is not eaten, but thrown from the nest as sawdust-like shavings. Carpenter ants are sometimes confused with termites, but it is easy to tell the difference between them. The termite has straight antennae and a thick waist, and the carpenter ant has a very narrow waist and bent antennae. Termites are found only in certain areas in Canada. Carpenter ants live in large colonies with hundreds of workers (all sterile females), several males and females that reproduce, and one or more queen. When part of an established colony goes into a nearby structure, it sometimes establishes a smaller satellite colony there. Some experts believe this is the main way carpenter ants invade houses. As well as tunnelling in the trim of buildings, wooden steps, and window sills, ant colonies can nest in houses without attacking structural timbers, using hollow spaces like wall voids, attic spaces, and hollow doors. They can even be found behind books in libraries, behind drawers in dressers and cabinets, and in styrofoam insulation. To find carpenter ants: Completely inspect areas of high moisture, wood in contact with the soil, areas where ventilation is poor, and exposed structural lumber. Figure out if there is actually an infestation of carpenter ants or if it is just individual ants wandering in the house. Look for a high concentration of ants in a particular area like under the kitchen sink. Pay attention to foraging ants and the patterns of their movement. For example, there may be a trail communicating with a parent colony outside. (Note: ants are most active after sunset.) Notice if there are swarms of winged ants trying to escape to the outdoors, usually in the spring. Look for piles of sawdust-like borings outside their galleries and slit-like openings in woodwork. Prevention
  • Clear away any decaying or infested wood from around buildings.
  • Remove firewood from inside buildings and away from the sides of buildings.
  • Do not bury stumps or other wood debris close to your house.
  • Pay attention to the state of landscaping props (like decorative bark, retaining walls, and driftwood).
  • Correct humidity problems in your home.
  • Replace decaying or infested structural wood with sound material.
  • Remove food sources to discourage ants from invading buildings.
  • Keep food in sealed containers and regularly sweep up all crumbs and other food fragments.
  • Keep your home clean to prevent re-infestation.
Cluster Flies
Homeowners are often bothered by sluggish flies in their homes in late winter and early spring. These flies are collectively called “clustering flies,” but may actually be any of the three most common types of flies. Cluster flies are dark grey, with black and silver checkered stomachs, and many golden hairs on their upper body (these may or may not be present on older flies). Unlike house flies, their wings overlap when they are at rest. At first glance, they may look like house flies, but they are larger, darker and slower-moving. There tends to be more of these flies in houses surrounded by large lawns or those backing onto open parks. The name “cluster fly” is used because of their habit of gathering in clusters after entering a house in the fall. Cluster flies hibernate in secluded areas of houses (like in wall voids, attics, closets, and empty rooms). They are a particular nuisance because they leave stains on walls and curtains. Also, if flies die in wall voids, they may attract larder beetles, which will feed on the dead flies and then migrate to other areas of the house. Adult cluster flies start looking for winter shelter when the days shorten in late summer and early fall. They are often attracted to the warm south and west sides of buildings, particularly those located in open and exposed areas. After sunning themselves during the day, the flies will look for a warmer place as the sun goes down and will eventually crawl into any small opening they can find in the house siding or under eaves. They may then settle within the walls or attic to hibernate. A fly problem becomes more obvious on days when temperatures rise and the flies become more active, gathering in windows where light attracts them. Prevention Clustering flies can enter your home through the tiniest cracks around door and window frames, but also through any other small unsealed opening. To prevent infestation:
  • Make sure that all screens fit properly and that there are no cracks or holes that would allow flies to enter your house.
  • Weather strip windows and doors.
  • Fill any cracks or crevices with caulking around doors, window frames, and other openings in the building structure.
  • Install insect screening over air vents in soffits.
Cockroaches have been an insect pest for about four million years. There are more than 3,500 species around the world. The German cockroach is one of the most common household cockroaches in the world. They are particularly fond of living in restaurants, food processing facilities, hotel rooms, and nursing homes. Although not very tolerant of the cold, this cockroach has been found in buildings as far north as Nunavut. Measuring about 1.3 cm to 1.6 cm (.51 to .63 inches) long, it is tan to light brown, with two dark parallel streaks running from the head to the base of the wings. Roaches have wings, but are unable to fly. Cockroaches rarely cause structural damage. They can, however, contaminate food and spread disease by walking over, and excreting on, food or food preparation areas after having travelled through garbage and/or sewers. People with asthma may have a negative reaction to their droppings and body parts. Cockroaches will live in any area where food, water, and shelter are available. They are attracted to buildings because of the warm, damp conditions offered by kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and plumbing areas. Their presence does not necessarily mean unclean conditions exist. Roaches and their egg cases can hitch a ride into your home on various objects (including used furniture, food items, empty beer and soft drink bottles, and shipping cartons). Once inside a building, they travel quite easily. Because cockroaches are most active at night, they may go unnoticed for some time. Cockroaches are attracted to food sources that contain starches, sugars, and protein, but will eat almost anything when hungry. Prevention Preventing access to food, water, and shelter, and keeping a clean home are important steps in preventing any pest infestation. Clean up spills immediately. Do not leave pet water and food out 24 hours a day. Regularly clean dark and/or damp areas close to a food source (for example beneath and behind appliances). Do not allow dirty dishes to pile up, especially overnight. If you cannot wash them immediately, leave them to soak in detergent and water. Vacuum often to help remove food particles and insect egg masses. If you think furniture, toys, or crafts have roaches, steam clean them if the material will not be damaged by moisture or heat. Regular vacuuming will remove food sources, cockroaches, and egg cases. Make sure they are all destroyed by placing the vacuum bag in soapy water. You can also freeze the infested items for at least 24 hours (but preferably up to a week) at -8°C (17.6°F). Traps, including sticky traps, let you monitor the population and location of roaches so that you know where to concentrate your efforts. Seal and caulk all cracks, crevices, and pipe openings to reduce cockroach hiding places. Put a fine mesh screen over cracks and crevices, vents, open pipes, and drains to reduce access to your home.
Bedbugs are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. They are easily moved from room to room on infested objects. Bedbugs cannot easily climb metal or polished surfaces and cannot fly or jump. Adult bedbugs can be as long as 10 mm. They have an oval, broad, flat body and a short, broad head. Adult bedbugs are brown, but darken to a blood red colour after feeding. Young bedbugs are shaped like adults, but are smaller (1.5 mm long) and lighter in colour. They also darken after feeding. Bedbug eggs are white, about one millimetre long, and are almost impossible to see on most surfaces. The female bedbug lays at least 200 eggs in her lifetime, at a rate of about two to four each day. The eggs have a sticky coating and are laid in cracks and crevices, behind woodwork and other hidden locations. They usually hatch in 6 to 17 days. How they feed and live: Bedbugs come out at night to feed, attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale. They will feed on both people and pets. Bedbug bites may not be noticed right away because bedbugs typically feed at night when people are asleep. Bedbugs prefer locations where they can hide easily and feed regularly, like sleeping areas. Their flattened bodies allow bedbugs to hide in extremely small locations: under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in electrical outlets, inside box springs, in mattress pads, and in night tables. Newly hatched bedbugs feed as soon as food is available. Bedbugs can live from several weeks to up to a year and a half without feeding. Older bedbugs can go even longer without feeding. Adults usually live for around 10 months, but can live for a year or more in a home where the environment is good for reproduction (with temperatures ranging between 21°C and 28°C). A bedbug bite can take as long as 14 days to appear, depending on the person. While bites can happen anywhere on the skin, they are often found on the face, neck, arms, legs, and chest. Some people do not react at all to the bites, while others may have small skin reactions. In rare cases, some people may have severe allergic reactions. To avoid infection, try not to scratch the bites and keep the bite sites clean. Using antiseptic creams or lotions, as well as antihistamines, may help. Talk to your health care provider for advice.
Fleas are small, parasitic insects that feed by sucking blood from mammals and birds. While immature fleas do not bite, adult fleas usually feed several times a day. They are dark brown or reddish brown, have flat bodies, are 1 to 4 mm (.04 to .16 inches) long, wingless,  and can jump up to 20 cm (8 inches) vertically and 41 cm (just under 16 inches) horizontally. In most parts of Canada, the peak flea season is early August to early October.  Fleas are not just an annoyance. They can cause discomfort for you and your pet. Some people and animals get an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which creates a rash. In animals, fleas can cause: hair loss from frequent scratching and biting, anemia (not enough red blood cells in the blood) in extreme cases. Fleas can transmit: parasites like tapeworms, diseases like typhus. A flea bite creates a small, hard, red and itchy spot. The spot is slightly raised and swollen and has 1 puncture point in the middle. Flea bites often appear in clusters or lines. They can be itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks. How do I check my pet for fleas? Adult fleas prefer to stay on pets and only leave after feeding. Their eggs, larvae (immature fleas) and pupae can be found in and around where pets sleep. During peak flea season and after contact with other animals, you should check your pet regularly for black particles the size of ground pepper on your pet’s skin near the tail. Inspect areas that your pets often go to for signs of fleas (sleeping areas, dog houses, kennels) Prevention You can reduce the chance of fleas coming into your home by:
  • keeping cats indoors
  • inspecting your pet regularly
  • regularly mowing and raking your lawn to discourage animals that may carry fleas
  • repairing window screens and other places that unwanted animals can use to enter your home
  • covering sandboxes when they are not being used
You can prevent your pet from getting fleas by using pest control products made for pets. Most of these products come into contact with the pet’s skin. It is important to use the right product for your pet and read and follow the directions on the label. To get rid of fleas on your pet, focus on the neck or tail, where fleas tend to gather. A flea comb will remove most fleas, flea feces and dried blood. Kill the fleas by putting them in hot, soapy water. To get rid of fleas in your home:
  • Wash pet and family bedding in hot, soapy water every 2 to 3 weeks. Lift blankets by all 4 corners to avoid scattering the eggs and larvae. If an infestation is severe, replace old pet bedding.
  • Vacuum carpets and cushioned furniture daily.
  • Clean around cracks and crevices on floors and along baseboards.
  • Steam-clean carpets.
You will need to treat areas frequented by pets:
  • baseboards near sleeping quarters
  • points of entry (for example, around door and window frames)
  • small areas in the yard where pets rest or play (like dog houses)
Mice & Rats

The house mouse has large ears and is light brown to dark grey, with a lighter colour on its belly. It is often found in urban areas. The deer mouse is brown or grey with a white belly and feet. The white colour on the underside of its tail is an easy way to spot a deer mouse. It may invade buildings near fields and woodlands in the fall.

A rat is larger than a mouse and can weigh up to 0.5 kilograms (1 pound). The Norway rat and the roof rat look similar, but their habits are different. The Norway rat builds elaborate systems of tunnels and burrows at ground level. It prefers damp areas like crawl spaces or building perimeters. The roof rat is an agile climber and prefers to live in trees, vines, and other dense vegetation. It will infest attics, rafters, or roofs, and upper stories of buildings.

Mice and rats are carriers of disease, and can damage property. The deer mouse is the most common carrier of the deadly hantavirus. For more information on hantavirus, please visit Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety

How do I know if I have a problem?

Scampering and scratching sounds in the walls of your home at night, signs of gnawing or chewing, or damaged food packages can mean you have an infestation of mice or rats. Other signs include droppings and urine, burrows or holes in and around foundation walls, or tracks on dusty surfaces.Mice and rats are prolific breeders. Tackle the problem of occasional invaders right away to avoid a severe infestation.


Prevention is key in controlling rats and mice problems in your home.

  • The first line of defence is to get rid of easy entry points. Mice can squeeze through cracks as small as a dime, while rats can enter through a quarter-sized hole. Even the small gaps created by worn thresholds under doors will allow mice access to your home
  • Use metal weather stripping under doors, and weather strip windows
  • Patch cracks in foundations
  • Stuff steel wool around pipes before caulking or plastering
  • Cover dryer vents, attic vents, and soffits with fine mesh metal screening
  • Make your home less appealing to rodents
  • Remove cosy nesting sites in unused clutter around your house and garage
  • Cut tall grass and weeds back from your house
  • Secure garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Raise woodpiles about 30 centimetres (1 foot) off the ground. Place them away from your house
  • Never place fatty or oily food waste, eggs, or milk products in the composter
  • Use a layer of heavy metal mesh between the soil and the bottom of the composter
  • Eliminate water sources (like leaky taps, sweating pipes, and open drains)
  • Keep your kitchen clean. Store dry food and dry pet food in metal or glass containers

Use caution when near urine and droppings:

  • Wear rubber gloves and a dust mask during cleanup
  • Dampen droppings and debris with a solution of bleach and water before wiping up
  • Wear gloves to dispose of dead rats and mice
  • Double bag the bodies of dead rats and mice in plastic bags and put in a garbage bin with a secure lid
  • Wash hands and exposed clothing thoroughly after clean-up, and separate from other laundry
  • Never sweep or vacuum dry droppings. The dust that is raised can cause illness

Bats are flying creatures of the night, not much bigger than a house mouse. Bats can live up to 10 years. The wingspan of the two most common Canadian species (the little brown bat and the big brown bat) ranges from 20 to 35 cm (8 to 14 inches), though some can be larger. A single brown bat is very beneficial: it can easily capture 600 mosquitoes each hour. A colony of 500 bats can eat a million insects nightly. When bats invade buildings and homes though, they become a nuisance. Their presence, the parasites they carry, and the smell from their droppings and urine can all be a problem. Bats may bare their teeth and squeak loudly, leading many people to believe they are vicious. In reality, the bat is only trying to ward off a possible attack from one of their predators (which include hawks, falcons, owls, cats, snakes, and humans).

Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease in humans and other mammals that is spread by bites or scratches and through contact with saliva or bodily tissues. Although attacks by rabid bats are rare, anyone bitten or scratched by a bat or any other wild animal should get medical help right away. Bats are usually noticed by their droppings or noise-making. Their musty smelling droppings can be mistaken for those of mice or birds. Bat droppings can look like crushed, fine, shiny undigested insect parts, while mouse droppings are firm and do not break apart easily. No white colour appears in bat droppings, like it does in bird feces. To save energy, bats have the ability to enter a dormant state that makes them look like they are sick, asleep, or dead. Sometimes bats can be seen around outdoor lights that have attracted insects. Sometimes in favourable conditions (like high humidity and temperatures above freezing), bats will roost in buildings throughout the winter. To tell if bats are roosting in a building, inspect the outside of the building before dark when bats leave their roosts, or when they return at dawn. Watching for an hour should be enough to find entry and exit points. Prevention Staple or duct-tape bird netting over entry points, with the bottom part hanging loosely at one to several inches from the building. This will allow the bats to crawl under and leave the roost site, while returning bats will not be able to re-enter. Watch your house for several evenings at dusk to make sure bats have not found another way to get in. Once bats are no longer seen leaving the building, the netting can be taken down and the holes sealed. Since bats tend to avoid daylight, lighting an infested area may cause them to leave. This method is believed to be most effective if done shortly after bats return from their hibernating sites. If you have successfully removed bats from your home, the best way to keep them out is to seal all points of entry (like spaces under eaves, electrical conduits, and holes around the chimney and windows). Vents that must be kept open can be protected with a fine screen. Larger openings can be sealed with a high quality caulk, sheet of metal, or window screen. Unlike rodents, bats will not gnaw their way through, but they will push aside loose barriers. Bats help control mosquitoes, so they should be encouraged to roost in our neighbourhoods (just not in our homes or buildings). Install bat houses in trees where bats will not be a nuisance. Bat houses can be bought in hardware stores and garden centres, or easily built with rough leftover wood. Install them facing east or southeast, and be careful that tree branches do not block the door.

For more information, you can go to Health Canada:

Whatever your pest, we have the solution.