Ants That Eat Wood – Identification, Signs, Control & Prevention

What kinds of ants destroy wood? Here is how to identify and get rid of this species.

Whenever people think of destructive pests with a preference for wood, termites easily come to mind. These insect pests have become notorious for creating a lot of havoc on properties or homes.

However, termites aren’t the only culprits. It’s important to state that termites are the biggest culprits when it comes to wood damage.

Are you suspicious of your home being destroyed by ants?

Dealing With Wood-Eating Ants

What ant species are responsible for such damage? Also, to what extent do these pests eat wood? All of these and more will be covered in this article.

Have you had doubts about the destructive potential of ants?

All such doubts will be cleared right here.

Do Ants Really Eat Wood?

First off, it’s important to state that certain ant species will do damage to wood.

This damage is mostly referred to and understood as eating wood because that’s what it looks like. However, the truth is that ants DO NOT eat wood.

Are you confused? You shouldn’t be.

Let’s put this another way;

Ants do not actually feed on wood but rather remove tiny bits of it. Where are these tiny pieces taken to? You’ll find such outside of their newly built nests.

Of course, the damaged wood serves as their new nests.

This is unlike termites that feed on wood. For termites, cellulose is the main attraction and wood has lots of that. The only evidence you’re likely to notice in the case of termites is frass or termite droppings.

These are usually in the form of pellets.

Why Ants Excavate Wood

If you’ve noticed ant presence around your home’s wooden structures, it’s possible such wood is being excavated. What leads to such excavation? In other words, what’s the purpose of such excavation?

The simple answer is; for nesting purposes!

Do All Ants Eat Wood?

Not really. While some species will readily nest in woods, certain species actually do the job of wood excavation.

Carpenter ants are mostly the culprits when it comes to wood damage. This ant species will readily destroy wood including those on your structures.

Here, you want to be more vigilant not only against termites but also against carpenter ants.

Having identified the ant species responsible for wood damage, it’s necessary to consider the signs of carpenter ant presence, as well as how to identify them.

Also, we’ll have to consider the common areas you can find these ant species. So, are you ready? Let’s discuss these and several other points.

What Carpenter Ants Look Like

Not everyone knows what carpenter ants look like.

To identify this species of ants, we’ll need to look at their color, length as well as their mandibles. In terms of their color, carpenter ants are mostly black.

Being mostly black means there are other color variations.

Asides from the predominantly black appearance, certain carpenter ants species may appear yellow or red. There are also light brown to dark brown colorations. It all depends on the species you’re looking at.

Speaking of species, there are several of these.

Such species include the black carpenter ants, Camponotus floridanus, Camponotus herculean, Camponotus vagus, Camponotus maculates, and Camponotus socius. These are just a few of several.

  • Still on Appearance…

Carpenter ants measure approximately 3.4 to 13 mm long.

Such size easily places them among the largest ant species in the United States. Winged females tend to measure the longest as they can grow to lengths of about 20 mm.

Carpenter ants have characteristically large mandibles. This gives them their strong bite and tunneling capability. Such mandibles can also inflict painful bites on humans.

Carpenter ants will bite when they feel threatened.

Signs of Carpenter Ants

In a bid to pinpoint the cause of your wood damage, certain signs will have to be followed to aid with identification. The most common of these include frass, ant presence, sounds, and trails.

Let’s take a look at these signs to find out more.

  • Frass

Like termites, carpenter ants leave droppings behind. This tell-tale sign can be confirmed by having a look at what such droppings look like.

The appearance is mostly finely shredded. This looks similar to fine sawdust. If you aren’t sure about the frass, the other signs might help confirm your fears.

  • Ant Presence

Ant presence around the damaged area may be noticed. This mostly consists of winged reproductives or workers.

The presence of these isolated ants around the damaged area isn’t a definite sign of carpenter ant presence as it only increases the possibility.

  • Sounds

The wood tunneling activity of carpenter ants produces sounds.

This is most audible when your surroundings are quiet enough. Part of the sounds you hear in the wood is due to carpenter ants marking their territory.

With such, it’s clear that your structure is being infested by these pests.

  • Trails

The most convincing sign of carpenter ant activity is finding their trails. These ants may file out towards, or from their nest connecting with wood.

In some cases, the wood may actually be the nesting ground. You’re likely to come across such trails around your carpet edge, power lines, door frames, and telephone lines.

Other likely areas you might find carpenter ant trails include fence tops and outside eaves just to name a few.

Vulnerable Points

To find these wood-destroying pests, you’ll need to know where to look at.

Carpenter ants will find a lot of areas easy to exploit. These range from joists, outside walls & voids, girders, attic, shingles, ceilings, roofs, crawl space, window sills & framing, and porch pillars.

Other areas to look out for these pests include support timbers, studs, buried wood & construction debris, and insulation. Carpenter ants can also be found in hollow doors, attic spaces, cabinets, and drawers of dressers.

Getting Help

Having identified carpenter ant presence, it’s important to take the right measures to contain the problem. DIY strategies will achieve little in containing the problem.

You’ll have to pay for professional ant control for the lasting protection of your home.

Carpenter ants have been identified as the ant species notorious for eating (tunneling through) wood. These pests pose a danger to your home and must be expelled as fast as possible to contain the damage early enough.

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