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Question DetailsAsked on 6/13/2017

can ants live in moldy wood

i have ants moving material out of the wall. The wall has been wet for a long time. At first I thought it was just mold growing. So i wan to know if the 'wood rot" is moldy or just rotted out from the moisture.

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Mold is generally surficial - if the wood has stayed wet for a long time bacteria and fungal growth (dry rot or wet rot) is more likely and is usually what actually causes any significant damage - mold is usually superficial and does little or no structural damage in most cases - certainly not healthy, but generally not a structural issue.

Mold/mildew will generally be shallow and sand/scrape off pretty easily (though the roots need chemical killing or it will regrow once humidity gets above about 50%) and will be a fuzzy white or bluish or greenish fuzz (mildew) or a usually black, brown or grayish spotty growth (commonly in discs or circles of growth) on the substrate which is basically 2-dimensional - very thin, no visible thickness. If you are seeing growths coming out of the wood (commonly looking more like a mushroom or tree fungus), actual falling out of wood pieces, punky or easily penetrated wood (with a screwdriver say), surface pattern cracking of the wood, etc then you have rot. Google for images or mold, mildew, dry rot, and wet rot to see what yours matches in appearance.

I don't know if mold bothers ants, but they definitely (like most insects) prefer damp wood (damp or moist, not actually soaking or dripping wet for terrestrial as opposed to aquatic invasives) - though dry wood termites, post beetles, and carpenter ants among others commonly enter a house through damp areas from the ground (or sometimes by swarm flying) but will generally continue to bore and tunnel into dry wood as well, spreading from the dampish wood.

If you see ants moving material out of the wood (piles of sawdust at the bottom of walls or around the foundation normally is the evidence for carpenter ants, which are quite large black ants - about 2-4 times the size of your normal household sugar ants or field ants), then you definitely have an infestation in the house - they life there and tunnel in but do not eat the wood (except for sugary sappy parts), and you will almost always see trails leading to and from where they are getting their food - sugars or protein at different stages of the egg laying/larval stage, getting the food either from outside or kitchen or rarely kid's snack staches in their rooms - most commonly from outdoors with carpenter ants.

For a small or initial infestation (and for prevention against return) Terro ant baits work very well in killing the nest - they take the poison back and feed it to the other ants so you can kill the entire nest as long as you make enough available to them. I have seen a nest completely eat up all the bait in 3 baits in 2 days, and go from a visible trail of hundreds of ants to zero in sight within 3-5 days of putting the bait out. (Continue the baiting for at least a week after the last ant is seen).

But if you have sawdust piles showing up or a long-term (more than a week or so) infestation, then an inspection for damage and spread by a pest control specialist would be recommended.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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