Carpenter ants must go outside the nest to find food. In the woods, carpenter ants prefer a traditional diet of aphid honeydew and other insects. But carpenter ants are omnivorous and can eat a variety of animal and plant foods. When colonies are established inside a home, there is no shortage of food. They will seek out common sweets such as syrup, honey, jelly, sugar and fruit and most kinds of meat, grease and fat.
The food sharing behavior of ants is used as a way for pest control professionals to kill the colony, especially when the nest is not readily accessible for direct removal. Baiting, combining an attractive food source with a slow-acting toxicant, is effective because the foragers consume the bait and bring it back to the rest of the colony. Professional pest control personnel are trained in baiting techniques and have access to a wider variety of products, so they are more likely to achieve positive results in killing the nest.
When boring through wood, carpenter ants leave behind sawdust-like material (“frass”) near the ant nest site. It is a tell-tail sign of a carpenter ant infestation. Carpenter ant damage is different from termite damage. The ant tunnels across the wood’s grain whereas termite tunnels follow the wood’s grain. Ant tunnels are clean; termite tunnels are covered with mud. Piles of dust are often seen near the ant nest site.
In a large colony with thousands of individual ants, the ants produce a distinctive crackling sound. If the colony is large enough to produce audible sounds, it is a large, mature colony.
Ants communicate with each other by touching their antennae and through chemicals that define foraging trails. Ants will habitually travel the same routes when going to and from the nest to various food sources and they release chemicals, called pheromones, to provide a scent trail that other ants can follow. These pheromones are so powerful, that it is estimated that one gram of ant pheromone would be enough to make a trail that circles the Earth
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