‘They crawl in our toilet paper’: grandmother desperate for help with ant infestation

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Edmonton woman struggling to cope with ant infestation in her apartment
A woman raising her two grandchildren in a south Edmonton apartment unit says she can no longer cook or shower at home because of ants. Sarah Kraus reports – Sep 28, 2018

An Edmonton woman is at her wit’s end after living with an infestation of pharaoh ants in her apartment for nearly a month.

Patricia Kalanza moved into Boardwalk’s Corian Apartments at the start of September.

Coverage of infestation on

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“While we were moving in, I noticed a few ants on the counter. I thought – OK, it’s a basement suite, you have the odd ant, understandable,” she said.

The problem is, it wasn’t just a few ants. More crawled out of every crevice.

“I realized it a few days after I moved in, that there was an ant infestation,” Kalanza said.

The single grandmother is raising her two grandchildren in the apartment. She’s upset she wasn’t told about the issue before she moved in.

But David McIlveen, Boardwalk’s director of community development, said the unit didn’t have a history of problems.

“There was no other complaints about ants, or no other contractors or exterminators called,” he said.

READ MORE: What can you do with a house full of ladybugs? Not much

Tom Schultz is an experienced exterminator. He said pharaoh ants have been in the city for about 30 years – though they’re not an especially common pest.

He has usually seen the tiny ants in multi-unit dwellings. Schultz said they’re notoriously difficult to eliminate.

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“You’ve almost got to look twice to see the little dots moving around. They typically nest around plumbing areas, electrical areas.”

Kalanza frequently sees them in her kitchen and bathroom.

“They crawl in our toilet paper. They come up through the drain. I’ve even found them on my brush,” she said.

She had a health inspector come to her apartment who said she would just bring the ants with her if she moved out now.

Her family is taking every precaution to ensure there’s no food out to attract ants.

READ MORE: Ant problem infiltrates Pointe-Claire home

“We don’t throw anything out unless it’s in a bag,” she said.

They’re also putting items such as cereals in air-tight containers – but it doesn’t seem to help.

“It’s a two-man job to cook because I have to have one of the kids here watching the food so the ants aren’t crawling on it while I’m preparing the food. It’s really hard to do.”

Boardwalk has called exterminators to Kalanza’s unit twice so far. She feels the baits aren’t working.

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Schultz wasn’t surprised — he said pharaoh ants are smart.

“They’re sensitive to chemicals,” he said. “Extremely sensitive to chemicals, to the point they can smell and detect just about anything.”

Boardwalk said they’re going to keep trying to kill the ants and help their tenant.

“We’ve, I think, gone over and above, way beyond any legal requirement because we want her to be a long-term happy resident.”

Kalanza said she’s desperate for a solution.

“It’s just a really stressful way to live,” she said.

“None of us are sleeping properly. The kids are scared to sleep at night because they’re scared they’re going to crawl in their ears at night — because they’re in the bedrooms too.”

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