Have you seen ants ever damage wood? Do ants eat wood? Why are they boring holes and creating damage to wood in and around your home?
Do ants find nutrition from wood? What is a bigger threat to the wood in your home; termites or ants?
Which ants cause the most damage to wood? In this article, we will find out the answer to the question, “Do ants eat wood?”
Do Ants Eat Wood?
No. Although we may refer to carpenter ants as wood ants, they do not eat wood. There are no species of ants that eat wood.
Ants however, can damage wood just like termites. The difference is termites actually consume cellulose in the wood, but ants are only looking for wood as the means of shelter.
Decaying wood or moisture in wood will draw in ant colonies who are looking for damp areas to build their nests.
How Do You Keep Ants Out of Wood?
Keeping ants out of wood can involve applying:
- boric acid
- diatomaceous earth
- baking soda
We prefer using vinegar. We can spray vinegar from a spray bottle directly onto wood materials. This makes it very hard for ants to detect their own pheromone trail that they have produced on top of the wood.
Vinegar will prevent ants from returning if they cannot find their own pheromone trail that they have left behind. Vinegar is an effective deterrent for ants. You can add only vinegar in a bottle and spray it.
Apple cider or white vinegar both work well. If you think that the mixture is too strong, you can add more water.
There is no exact measurement, but it is clear that ants are disrupted by the scent of vinegar and keeps them away from wood.
Do Ants Get Attracted to Wood?
Carpenter ants in particular are very attracted to wood. They bore into softwood that has high contents of moisture. Their aim is to drill or tunnel through the wood.
They want to get inside hollow portions of the wood to create a safe and secure nest for their colony to thrive. They will not eat the wood itself. Carpenter ants who are more drawn to dead insects, honeydew, sugary foods.
They will try to find it and bring it back to their a hollowed-out wooden tunnels that they have created inside your walls or other wooden objects.
Why Are Ants in my Wood?
If you are finding piles of sawdust in your wood or around it, it is being pushed out of small holes that ants are burrowing through. They are trying to create a safe location for their colony to thrive.
The difference of ants in your wood compared to termites is that ants are not looking to eat the wood. In both cases, you may find frass which is a combination of pieces of wood, saliva and droppings.
What Are the Signs of Carpenter Ants?
If you are concerned that carpenter ants have infested the wood inside your home, look for the following signs:
- Piles of sawdust or wood shavings. Look underneath the baseboards, door jambs and window sills.
- Listen for rustling noises inside the walls.
- Knock on walls and doors and check if they sound hollow.
- Observe winged ants coming out of ceilings, walls and crevices
If an infestation of carpenter ants gets out of control, you will end up with substantial damage to the wood in and around your home. If you cannot eradicate carpet ants that are hiding or you are unable to locate their nests, you may need to help from a professional pest removal company.
Bait traps are essential because carpenter ants will find tainted food and bring it back to the colony to poison the rest of their nest.
Do Regular Ants Destroy Wood?
Ants don’t eat the wood, but some of them can destroy it when they are trying to build their nest such as carpenter ants. These ants have strong jaws and can chew tunnels through the wood.
They use their teeth to munch on the wood, but they do not digest it. Wood that it softer or rotting with mold or water damage is inviting for carpenter ants to create tunnels for the safety of their colony to enjoy as shelter.
Ants are looking for moisture, shelter and food. They will forage for food and bring it back to these wooden tunnels to feast on.
What Kind of Ants Burrow Into Wood?
The top species of ant that burrow into wood are known as carpenter ants. They like to create tunnels inside wood. While they are busy at work, they are not ingesting any of the wood.
They do not have the digestive systems to be able to extract cellulose from wood like termites can. They are just chewing and creating rows of sawdust as they are attempting to create nests for their colony.
Carpenter ants will still have to go out and search for food and bring it back to the wood that they have burrowed through.
What’s Worse Carpenter Ants or Termites?
Termites can cause much more damage to your home. They are able to plow through wood and ingest it. They can create expansive tunnels deep inside your home for months or years without you noticing.
Carpenter ants will also try to burrow through wooden structures, but it takes them a shorter amount of time to do so.
You will most likely notice carpenter ants going in and out of wood because they have to continue to find food sources to bring it back to the shelter that they have created inside the wood.
Termites don’t have to leave because they not only have shelter, but plenty of food sources in the cellulose contained within the wood.
How to Get Rid of Ants Eating Wood
You may think that ants are eating wood, but they are chewing and munching through it to create a suitable nest for their colony.
Either way, it is up to us to get rid of these ants who are damaging the wood. Here are some methods to help you get rid of wood destroying ants:
- Use two parts sugar to 1 part boric acid in leave it as a bait trap. Ants will bring it back to their colony and end up killing off the nest.
- Use ant killer inside a tube with a fine nozzle. Squeeze them into crevices and hard-to-reach areas. Do this for one month.
- Spray ant killing spray wherever you see carpenter ants active in or out of your home. Do this for the next 2 to 3 weeks.
Killing ants on contact will not prevent them from coming back. They will end up releasing oleic acid which will alert other ants to arrive.
Follow the ants to their colony or nest and spray their home.
Follow ants as they walk along a straight line. They are following a pheromone scent trail. They are either going towards a source of food or returning back to the nest.
Either way, you will be able to eliminate them. You can also clean the scent trail along the way by spraying vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
Which Ants Destroy Wood?
Carpenter ants are the most common species of ants that destroy wood. They do not eat it, but they dig into it to create sheltered nests.
Here are some specific types of ants that are known to create the most amount of damage to wood.
- Florida Carpenter Ant
- Ferruginous Carpenter Ant
- Eastern Black Carpenter Ant
- Cylindromyrmex whymperi
- Crematogaster scutellaris
- Colobopsis Anderseni
- Liometopum Luctuosum
- Melissotarsus Ants
- Liometopum Occidentale
- American Carpenter Ant
- Jet Black Ant
- Western Carpenter Ant
- Chestnut Carpenter Ant
What Are Signs of Wood Eating Ants?
You are not going to find ants that are actually ingesting the wood. What they are doing is burrowing through the wood and causing damage to it.
If you would like to find the signs of ants that are destroying wood, look for the following clues:
- Tunnels Parallel To Wood Grain
- Hollow Sounds
- Crinkling Noises
Frass can be referred to as the chewed wood and saliva that ants are leaving behind. They can also be referred to as droppings from termites.
Termites eat wood, but ants do not. Either way, you will find evidence of their damage by noticing frass which can resemble small grains of sand that are usually pushed out through tiny holes in the wood.
2. Tunnels Parallel To Wood Grain
You may notice faint lines or actual tunnels of wood. These galleries are visible and run alongside the grains of wood. Ants like to dig parallel to each grain of wood. It makes their job easier.
Termites don’t do such a thing. This is how you can tell that your issue with wood damage is accredited to ants and not termites.
3. Hollow Sounds
Knock on the wood and check if it sounds hollow. If you know the wood is solid, but certainly sounding hollow, it is an early sign here that ants have infested the location.
It may also be termites. You may need a professional at this point to help determine the extent of damage behind the walls.
4. Crinkling Noises
Ants can make little crinkling or cheeping noises when they are burrowing through wood. You may hear them through the wood if you listen carefully.
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