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Carpenter ants are one of the most aggressive wood destroyers. Because of this trait, they can cause significant damage the same as termites.
Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat the wood, but instead mine it. They will excavate the timber to enlarge the size of their nests. Just think of these ants as wood chewers where termites are wood eaters
An interesting fact is that they put little access holes out of the timber. These holes are used to dump the excavated waste materials from the nest.
In Sydney carpenter ants are quite common, and they can be typically found by looking for signs on tree trunks.
Carpenter ants; what do they eat?
Most people think, as the name suggests that these ants eat timber, but in fact, they don’t eat timber at all.
They are protein eaters and mainly feeds on insects. Aphids are their choice of food, so they do some good in the garden.
With an ample supply of insects, the ant colony can expand rapidly.
Do carpenter ants do as much damage as termites?
Termites have some unusual defence tactics against black ants. One of the main ones they deploy is for soldier termites to stick their heads out of breaches.
They do this as the soldier’s heads are very hard and the ants can’t inflict any damage. For an ant to be successful against a termite they must attack from behind.
It’s not all good news for soldier termites. Workers will rush to the area to rebuild the mud shield that has been damaged. They do not move the soldier termites out of the way, rather they just mud up around them.
Yes, the soldier termites are sacrificed to save the colony. If you look closely at termite mudding, you will often see this.
How to detect carpenter ants
Carpenter ants are fairly easy to detect. Unlike termites who tunnel under the earth, these ants work above ground.
Commonly you will find carpenter ants climbing up a tree. They do this to access the aphids and other insects hiding on the trunk.
As they are easy pickings for predators like birds, they tend to build shields to protect the ant trail. These shields are often mistaken for termite mudding.
On close examination the shields construction is very different to termite workings. Termites tend to use a mud like construction, whereas carpenter ants shield construction tends to be more of a grit construction. It will appear to be stuck together with fine silk.
They will use any small pieces of material in the construction. When you break through the shield in can takes weeks to repair.
Should I be concerned if I have them?
While not as destructive as termites, carpenter ants can cause severe damage to Sydney homes. In addition, if their numbers build up, they will do much more significant damage as the nest is expanded.
Sprays and most general pest products are ineffective on them. Consequently, unless you can treat the nest directly, control is nearly impossible.
Our local Sydney technicians have been treating these and other ants for years. We have become very skilled at eliminating these destructive pests.
Typically, in these situations we will provide them with fresh protein bait source. The ants will simply do the work for us carrying the loaded bait back to the colony. This is the most effective way of getting them under control.