What do Termites Eat? (Infestation Prevention Advice)

termites in nestThere’s a common question that I get from my family, friends and clients – What do termites eat? What’s their main source of food? Do termites eat concrete?

The answer to the last one, thankfully, is no. It is however, a very popular myth and often people are under the assumption that they make their way through your bricks or concrete and into your home.

That’s not the case and they simply look for any small hole to get through.


What is a termites diet?

Termites are classed as detrivores so they feed on decomposing plants but primarily you will find them feeding on wood.

Another food source for them is cotton, so this could be your clothes so be careful leaving them in easy to reach places if you’re worried about a potential infestation.

Being detrivores means they have a vital role to play in the ecosystem as they are there to help break down things at any level of decomposition and recycle it.

The actual substance they digest is known as cellulose, it makes up the majority of plants cell walls and is abundant across the world as it’s found in every plant.


How do termites eat wood?

There’s not many things on the earth that are capable of digesting wood as it’s a difficult material to break down but termites have protozoa, otherwise known as single cell eukaryote, in their stomachs.

This allows them to break down the wood and extract the cellulose, turning it into a highly nutritious meal.

Termites also have a preference for wood that is either damp or already rotting as this makes for a much easier to digest meal for them and will be broken down much quicker in their stomach.


Termite proof wood (resistant)

I’m sure you’re aware by now that termites just love eating wood, but there’s some types that they just aren’t interested in for various reasons.

However, there is a common misconception that there is “termite proof wood”, but this is just that, a misconception.

Not all hope is lost though as there are termite resistant woods available that will help keep you safe from a potential invasion but they aren’t guaranteed to work.

Keeping the wood regularly maintained will help bolster your defence chances.

One option of defending yourself against them is by getting your wood treated around your home, especially if it is in close proximity or contact to soil.


Do termites eat treated wood?

I’m sure you’re aware by now that termites just love eating wood, but there’s some types that they just aren’t interested in for various reasons.

However, pressure treated wood isn’t always off the cards for termites.

This type of wood is coated with a protective chemical barrier that helps prevent rot and damp in the wood and also provides a layer to stop termites breaking through.

Over time though this will wear down and eventually the termites will be able to get through, some may even begin to get through at an earlier stage such as during construction.

If the treatment is not applied correctly then damp can also begin to set into the wood early and thus giving the termites a source of food.


Do termites eat cedar wood?

Cedar wood is naturally resistant to termites, but this doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to be safe.

It secretes a resin and oil that repels them, there’s been studies by scientists that claim termites have died after ingesting these resins.

Over time though the resins and oils will begin to seep out of the wood, then the pests will be quite happy to begin feasting on it and causing damage.

A huge downside to cedar though is the cost, it’s one of the more expensive woods available and the price is consistently rising so replacing your whole home with it is quite impractical.


Do termites eat bamboo?

Bamboo floors are becoming increasingly popular in the modern home and give a very natural look to a floor.

There’s also a misconception that they are resistant to termites as they are not technically wood and are actually grass.

This is definitely not the case and bamboo in the home is in fact, full of sugars and starch. So, as with any other plant, is prone to termite infestations (assuming the conditions are ideal).


Is redwood termite resistant?

Termites generally don’t eat redwood due to it being more resistant to decay than other types of wood.

It’s more resistant due to the fact that it has less sap than others but over time it will seep into the ground and this can attract termites.

Redwood trees also have a protective bark that deters termites.

Tannic acid is what resides in the bark and this provides protection from unwanted pests, this is also what makes redwood trees some of the longest surviving in the world.

However, as I’m sure you’re aware, wood within the home usually doesn’t have the bark still on it so this protective layer is no longer present and the wood is then prime for an infestation if it gets damp.