What Do Carpenter Ants Eat?

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Carpenter ants are one of the largest types of ants, with ants within a single colony varying in size. Adult carpenter ants can measure anywhere from 6 to 12 mm in length. Males, or winged swarmers, can measure up to 18 mm, and the queens can grow to 20 mm in length. In a mature colony, there usually are as many as 3,000 adult ants. But some species have been known to contain up to 100,000. These are social insects, and the colonies contain different castes, including a queen and minor and major workers.

group of carpenter ants eating sugary liquid

If carpenter ants were actually little carpenters who build and fix things, perhaps they would eat what many carpenters eat. Maybe they would carry a tiny little metal lunch box filled with sandwiches, bags of chips, and perhaps some apple pie and a Coke. But carpenter ants are not really carpenters, and they don't actually fix anything. In fact, carpenter ants can do a tremendous amount of damage to manufactured structures.

So what do they eat? Like most folks, you may believe that carpenter ants eat wood the way termites do. But you would be wrong. Carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood they infest. They carve tunnels and galleries to establish nests. They need those nests to produce more carpenter ants. And when they have more carpenter ants, they need even more galleries to produce even more carpenter ants… and on, and on. You get the picture.

So, if carpenter ants don't eat tiny lunchbox food and don't eat wood, what do they eat? These large ants feed on sources of protein and sugar. Outdoors, they eat living and dead insects and are also fond of honeydew. Indoors, carpenter ants will feed on meats and pet foods and syrup, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweet foods.

The time of day when carpenter ants are most likely to be seen foraging for food is at night between sunset and midnight during spring and summer. If you were to see one carpenter ant foraging for food in your home, you might be tempted to think you only have a few ants. But, you would likely be wrong since most carpenter ants stay within their tunnels and galleries and only send out a few scouts in search of food.

Carpenter Ant Prevention Tips

  • Know what a carpenter ant looks like. These are large black or reddish ants with a single node between their thorax and abdomen.
  • Know what a carpenter ant swarmer looks like. Also called "flying ants," these are large ants with wings.
  • Know what carpenter ant wings look like. You may miss the actual swarmers, as they only appear for around half an hour, but you may see the transparent wings that they leave behind on foundation walls, windowsills, or decks and patios.
  • Never store firewood inside for more than two days, as you may be bringing these ants in with the wood.
  • Repair any areas around your home that water leaks may damage. And seal up any gaps, cracks, or holes you find in your foundation or outer walls.
  • Make sure all garbage is in tightly sealed containers. Not only are ants attracted to garbage, many other household pests as well.
  • Clean your home thoroughly of food particles or water sources, and ensure all foods are sealed inside refrigerators, freezers, or tightly sealed containers. Pay close attention to areas that are not usually seen, such as between the over and counter side, underneath the refrigerator, and under appliances that are infrequently moved. Ants, and other pests such as cockroaches, easily get into these areas for a tasty meal.

Eliminate Carpenter Ants

If you already see these ants inside your home, it is time to reach out for professional help. Although these wood-destroying pests do not actually eat the wood of your home, they will continue to dig tunnels and galleries, which can produce severe structural damage if given enough time. Don't fool around with destructive pests; contact the carpenter ant control professionals at Parkway Pest Services today. Life is better when you know your home is safe from destructive pests.


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