"The Best Service at the Right Price… TODAY!"
"The Best Service at the Right Price… TODAY!"

Why Do Termites Eat Wood?

When you see signs of termite damage or suspect that you need termite inspection or extermination services, thinking about why termites eat the way that they do or if termites fly may not be your top priority. However, understanding why termites prefer the cellulose found in wood, as well as what cellulose sources are most appealing, may help you deter the interest of these pests. Although there are many different types of termites, they may share similar interest in wood cellulose and in what attracts them to a particular environment. The information below can help you assess the safety of your property or simply be all the encouragement you need to contact Eliminate ‘Em’s extermination team for professional pest control services.

What Types of Termites Eat Wood?

There are approximately 45 different types of termites found in the United States. Although they are also found in almost every U.S. state, subterranean termites, specifically the Eastern Subterranean Termite, are common in New England. Drywood and dampwood termites often prefer western and southern climates. Regardless of the part of the country that they inhabit, types of termite within each of these three main categories enjoy consuming wood.

  • Subterranean termites enjoy wood most closely connected to the soil, such as that wood pile behind the garage or around a home’s foundation. Some varieties of this type of termite seem to enjoy plywood and pine in particular.
  • Drywood termites don’t require as much moisture as some other termites. They prefer wood in dry dead trees, hardwood floors, dry non-decaying-wood and other structural timber, as may be found in attics and other locations throughout the home.
  • Conversely, dampwood termites require the most moisture in the wood that they consume. Homes that have multiple areas where the ground and structural wood connect may be appealing to these termites, as are areas on the property where wood may be especially water-logged, such as leaks in the basement or rotting wood in the shed.

Why are Termites Interested in Eating Wood?

Wood is not a termite’s only food source. However, it is often one of the most easily accessible to them and most plentiful in cellulose, a complex carbohydrate found in wood. Here are 6 reasons that wood is so important for termites in terms of eating, survival, and more.

  1. Food: Termites have bacteria in their guts that aid in cellulose digestion. Termites process this source of carbohydrates and use the simple sugars to keep them energized!
  2. Hydration: Wood is also a water source for termites. Termites extract moisture from the wood that they eat in order to help keep themselves hydrated!
  3. Cultivation: The termite version of gardening is specifically focused on fungal cultivation. To support their colonies, termites encourage the growth of fungi as an additional source of nutrients. This fungi can grow on the wood that they consume.
  4. Sanitation: The mud tubes and galleries that termites create are often formed from digested wood in addition to other bodily fluids and materials. These pathways are used for a variety of purposes including the removal of waste from the colony.
  5. Protection: Living in rotten stumps or fallen tree branches enables termites to stay hidden from predators like owls, bats and ants. Wood material also helps fortify structures that the termites build, like the mud tunnels commonly found in yards with an infestation.
  6. Adaptation: Another reason that termites eat woody material is that they have simply evolved to do so. Their preference for wood is primarily because it is abundant and suited for their digestion.

What Kind of Wood Do Termites Prefer to Eat?

When it comes to dining, termites like people can have preferences for the kind of wood that they most enjoy. However, much like scrounging in the fridge for leftovers after a long day, termites also make the most of whatever food sources are available to them. These other features may make the wood on your property particularly attractive to termites.

  • Some termites may prefer pine and fir, because softwoods are higher in cellulose and typically easier to process. However, termites won’t turn down the cellulose in untreated hardwood like oak and maple. Some types of wood like cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated wood may be low on their ideal menu, but termites will eat them if they have to!
  • Decaying or water-logged wood is quite a delicious offering. In addition to being easier to consume, it also offers the moisture that termites need.
  • Wood that connects with soil is simply the easiest for termites to access. Essentially, they’ll choose their meal based on proximity over other options that may be more preferable.
  • Damaged wood is another termite favorite. Unlike sealed wood or treated wood that is more challenging to penetrate, weaker wood is easier for termites to infest and digest.

Have you thought of some wood sources in or around your home that may be appealing to termites? Want to engage the prevention services or routine maintenance available from your local pest control provider? Contact the Eliminate ‘Em termite extermination professionals today!