Why Do Termites Eat Wood?

August 18, 2021

Termites are dreaded by property owners everywhere because of the extensive damage they are known to cause. They are tiny, but there is power in numbers. A termite colony may contain tens of thousands to millions of termites. With such a vast population, it is easy to see why termites are the most destructive pests. Termites cause massive damage to property since they live in and feed on wood, and most buildings happen to have a wooden element either in household items or construction materials.

Why Wood Attracts Termites

  • Source of Nourishment – Termites eat wood as it is their primary source of food. Wood contains cellulose that termites are fond of eating. Cellulose is found not only in wood but also in grass, hummus, leaves, vegetative materials, and herbivores’ manure. Wood-eating termites eat anything wooden, from pieces of furniture to structures in your home. By devouring wood, termites can flourish at the expense of your property.
  • Wood is More Habitable Termites love wood because it is habitable, making for a great nesting place. The more termite eggs hatch, the more worker termites burrow deeper into the wood to expand the habitat for the growing colony. The burrowing secretly takes place. Therefore, the resultant damage may be more devastating than you think. Keep in mind that not all termites prefer the same type of wood. Different species have different preferences.

Termite Wood Preferences

1. Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites prefer eating softwood leaving the more complex parts behind. They usually stay underground and depend on the soil for moisture. As they move out searching for food, they maintain a connection to the soil by making mud tubes.

2. Drywood Termites

Drywood termites eat dry wood. You will find them feeding on wood found in manufactured items such as furniture, flooring, and framing. However, they may be hard to detect because they eat wooden materials from the inside out.

3. Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites look for moist, decaying wood, preferably rotting logs, tree stumps, and woodpiles. They invade buildings with moisture-associated damage.

Signs Of Termite Infestation

  • Blisters in Wood Flooring – Blisters indicate feeding by termites beneath or within the flooring. The same goes for window trims and door frames. Subterranean termites cause damage that makes wooden structures seem to have water damage.
  • Damaged or Hollowed Wood – Wood damage on surfaces such as floors, walls, and ceilings indicates an infestation. The damage is caused by termites when chewing on wood as they look for cellulose. A hollow sound or honeycomb interior characterises damaged wood.
  • Mud Tubes – These are pencil-sized tubes created by subterranean termites that live underground and move up structures looking for food. Subterranean termites require favourable levels of humidity and temperature to survive. And that is why they make mud tubes. The tubes also protect them from predators.
  • Drywood Termite Droppings – Drywood termites live inside wood, where they form colonies. They like keeping their place clean, thereby making kick-out holes to get rid of their excrement. Therefore, if you find small mounds of pellets resembling coffee grounds or sawdust, it indicates a drywood termite infestation.

Getting Rid Of Termites

Signs of termites eating wood in your home may not be that evident. Termite damage may go unnoticed for a long time. You may only notice the damage when it is already severe. That is why it is advisable to be proactive against termite infestation. Hire a qualified termite controller or take the necessary DIY measures to keep these dangerous critters away from your property. When it comes to dealing with termites, prevention is always better than cure. 

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