Termites Only Eat Wood, Right?

Termites Only Eat Wood, Right?

Termites Only Eat Wood: Myth

With the havoc termites wreak on homes, it’s a common belief that their diet only consists of tasty wood. But is that all they crave? Let’s find out in this month’s fact or fake.

Most homeowners know that termites can cause significant damage to their homes requiring costly repairs and inconvenience. They pose such a threat, that most new home purchases require termite inspections.

While termites primarily target wood, it’s a myth that the common building material is all their diet consists of. Termites truly want to feast on the cellulose that wood and other plants are made from. Cellulose is an organic compound that comprises cell walls in plants, and due to its abundance in nature, is commonly found in numerous home building materials and even food products.

Cellulose can be found in paper, plants, some plant byproducts, plant fibers and drywall backing. While some people may think termites can eat plastic, in fact they do not consume non-cellulose plastics, but can burrow through these materials and other non-cellulose materials. Cellulose is the true food source termites crave and microorganisms in their digestive tracts are integral to breaking down cellulose and enabling termites to absorb the nutrients they need for survival.

“What do termites eat?” LSU AgCenter