Carpenter Ants and wood-boring beetle larvae are the mainstay of the Pileated Woodpecker’s diet. Long slivers of wood in trees and logs are removed in order to expose ant galleries, creating large rectangular excavations. The woodpecker’s long, pointed, barbed tongue and its sticky saliva enable it to catch and extract ants from the ants’ tunnels.
While ants and beetle larvae are consumed year-round, fruits and nuts are eaten when available. A study that took place in the Northeast found seasonal shifts in primary food items: fruit in fall, Carpenter Ants in winter, wood-boring beetle larvae in early spring, and a variety of insects in summer.
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