How Fast Do Termites Eat Wood?

The rate at which termites eat wood depends on many factors such as the species of termite, size of the colony, type of wood, climate, and location. Experts estimate that over a period of about five months, a group of around 60,000 termites can eat the equivalent of one foot of a 2×4 beam. No matter how fast they eat, the pests can do serious damage to homes before residents are even aware of it.

How Colony Size Affects Rate of Consumption

Different species of termites consume wood at different rates. While all colonies eat constantly, even during the cold weather months if their colony is located in an area that remains warm (underneath the home’s slab foundation, for example), the amount of wood they consume greatly depends on the number of termites within the colony. Subterranean termites have huge colonies, often with over a million individuals. The number of termites consuming wood is more significant than the speed at which each individual eats.

Availability of Wood

Rather than attacking a single point in the home, termite colonies spread out looking for vulnerable support beams, walls, floors, and any other suitable source of wood. While this method of feeding does not cause damage as quickly, the possible area of destruction may be widespread.

Climate & Location

Termite activity is greatly affected by the surrounding climate and location of their colonies. For example, subterranean termites are more problematic in warm, humid regions or indoors, where they have access to heat and moisture. In these cases, the rate at which they consume wood can remain the same year-round. However, in cold weather, termite activity likely slows and they eat wood sluggishly.

Detecting Activity

Since termites can quickly cause damage, homeowners should keep an eye out for signs of activity, the most likely being the appearance of termite swarmers and evidence of weakened portions of wood in the house. The best advice for those who suspect they have a termite infestation or simply want peace of mind is to contact an Orkin termite specialist for a comprehensive termite inspection.