What do Carpenter Ants Eat?

By Bridget Ambrose

Carpenter ants are one of the most common types of ants found in homes and buildings. Despite their prevalence, there are many misconceptions about their diet. Many people believe carpenter ants only eat wood, which is not accurate.

So what do carpenter ants eat exactly?

In reality, carpenter ants have a diverse diet, feasting on other insects, sugary substances, and even human-made food. 

Understanding what carpenter ants eat can help prevent and control their populations in homes and buildings. In this blog, we will look closely at carpenter ants’ diets and dispel rumors about their eating habits.

Do Carpenter Ants Eat Wood?

Carpenter ants are known for their ability to tunnel into wood and cause structural damage to buildings. Often mistaken for termites, carpenter ants can create similar disrepair to your home. 

However, carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood they tunnel into. Instead, they remove the wood to create nest sites within the structure.

These pests cannot digest cellulose, which is the main component of wood. Instead, they use their mandibles to excavate the wood and create galleries and chambers for their nests.

Their tunneling weakens the structural integrity of beams and other wooden components, leading to the collapse of roofs and walls. Additionally, large colonies of carpenter ants can contain hundreds of individuals, making the damage they cause even more significant.

Carpenter Ants & Termites

While both can eat you out of your house and home, carpenter ants and termites have their fair share of differences. 

Carpenter ants tunnel into wood to create nest sites and chambers, leaving behind a smooth and clean texture. Termites eat the wood they tunnel into, leaving behind a rough and damaged surface.

Plus, carpenter ants produce sawdust-like waste that is visible outside their nests, while some termite species scatter pellets that are small and uniform in size. Drywood termite frass resembles small pebbles, often near the site of an active infestation.

These pests also have physical differences that can help you differentiate between the pests indoors. 

  • Antennae: Carpenter ants have bent, elbowed antennae, and termites have straight antennae.
  • Body shape: Carpenter ants have a defined waist and a clearly visible thorax and abdomen, while termites have a uniform, cylindrical shape.
  • Wings: Carpenter ants have two sets of wings, with the front wings being longer than the hind wings. Termites have two sets of wings that are equal in length.

Identifying the type of pest causing damage to your home or building is essential to determine the appropriate course of action. If you need more clarification, seek the help of a pest control professional who can accurately identify the type of pest and provide a solution.

What Do Carpenter Ants Eat?

Carpenter ants feed on various food sources, including other insects, sugary substances, and other sweet foods. Their diet is diverse, and they are not restricted to a single food source, which makes them well-adapted to survive in various environments.

In the wild, carpenter ants feed on other insects, including caterpillars, spiders, and aphids. They are also attracted to sweet and sticky substances, such as nectar, fruit juices, and honeydew, produced by sap-sucking insects.

What do carpenter ants eat indoors? In urban environments, carpenter ants feed on human-made food sources like syrup, sugar, and jelly. They also consume pet food, attracting them to homes and commercial buildings.

Carpenter ants flock to sources of moisture. You may find them congregated around leaks or standing water indoors. While they won’t eat the wood, they’ll still search for damp, decaying wood to establish their colonies.

How to Eliminate Carpenter Ants

Getting rid of carpenter ants can be challenging, but it is possible with the right approach and tools. Here are some steps to help eliminate carpenter ants.

Start by locating the nest. While this step may be difficult, you can usually find the approximate area these pests nest. Carpenter ants often build in moist or rotting wood, such as window frames, door frames, and deck supports. 

Use a flashlight and inspect the exterior of your home or building to look for signs of carpenter ants, including sawdust-like waste, discarded wings, and live or dead ants.

After you’ve located the carpenter ants on your property, focus on removing their food sources. Carpenter ants are attracted to sweets, pet food, and grains but will eat almost anything in your pantry.

To reduce carpenter ants in your kitchen, clean up any messes left behind from cooking or eating. If ants or other insects regularly comb through your pantry items, consider placing your groceries in tamper-proof containers with tightly closing lids. 

Check out this article to learn more about choosing the best pest-proof storage containers.

Because carpenter ants can easily enter homes and buildings through cracks, crevices, and gaps in your home’s structure, try sealing these entry points with silicone caulk or other materials to prevent the ants from entering the building.

Many different types of insecticides are available for controlling carpenter ant populations too. Choose a product labeled for use against carpenter ants, and follow the instructions carefully.

However, we ultimately recommend you utilize a pest control service, especially if the infestation is severe or difficult to control. Carpenter ant nests are often difficult to find, and incorrect pesticide usage may lead to recurrent infestations or make you ill. 

It is important to remember that carpenter ants can be persistent pests, and multiple treatments may be necessary to eliminate the entire population. Regular inspections and extermination can help to prevent future infestations.

Pest control professionals have the experience and knowledge to quickly and effectively eliminate carpenter ant populations. Contact proof. today to schedule an appointment to stop the carpenter ant infestation in your home. 

Call proof. pest control at 888-291-5333, or send us a message online.

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