As you might assume from the name, the carpenter ant digs in wood. Unlike termites, these ants do not eat the wood; they live in it! They prefer moist, hollow or decaying wood to create tunnels and rooms. When they choose a home to infiltrate, this will usually happen around wood vulnerable to moisture such as windows, porches and decks. While ants are small, they can definitely cause damage when creating their homes! The picture below is only an example of a carpenter ant infestation.
If there are holes dug into my house, how do I know it’s from ants instead of termites?
Termites will pack holes with mud and will leave no sawdust-like material. Carpenter ants will not pack the holes and there will be shavings from the wood called “frass.”
Is there a way to prevent carpenter ants from making my home their own?
It’s important to check the exterior of your home for rotting or decaying wood. Areas of wood that are constantly wet will also attract them. Also, do not store your firewood near your home or building if possible. If they have already entered your home, leaving out sweet foods will allow you to follow the food trail back to the colony. These ants are fond of honey, jelly, sugar, syrup and other sweets. They prefer sources of sugar and protein, and eat living and dead insects in nature.
Southeast Asia has carpenter ants with a unique defense mechanism when their colony is in danger or being threatened. This carpenter ant has a gland filled with chemicals that runs down the entirety of the body, which the ant can cause to burst by contracting certain muscles. At this point, the body will rupture and spray toxins out of the head. This is done to block tunnels to the colony, and make it more difficult for predators or enemies to attack. Therefore, these sacrificial insects have the nickname “exploding ants.”