Termites are known for their insatiable appetite for wood and other cellulose-rich materials, which is why they are often referred to as “wood-eating insects.” However, not all species of termites feed on wood alone. In fact, there are several different types of termites, each with their own unique dietary preferences. In this article, we’ll explore what termites eat and how their diet affects their behavior.
The Diet of Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite found in the United States, and they are responsible for causing billions of dollars in damage to homes and buildings each year. These termites live in underground colonies, where they feed on a variety of cellulose-rich materials.
The primary food source for subterranean termites is wood, but they will also eat other materials such as paper, cardboard, and fabric. They are particularly attracted to damp or decaying wood, as it is easier for them to digest.
To access their food sources, subterranean termites build mud tubes that connect their underground colonies to above-ground structures. These tubes protect the termites from predators and help maintain a humid environment that is necessary for their survival.
The Diet of Drywood Termites
Drywood termites are another common type of termite found in the United States. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require contact with soil or water to survive. Instead, they live inside the wood they consume and obtain all the moisture they need from the wood itself.
As their name suggests, drywood termites primarily feed on dry wood. They prefer hardwoods like oak, maple, and walnut, but will also consume softwoods like pine and cedar. Drywood termites can be particularly damaging to furniture and other wooden objects in the home.
The Diet of Dampwood Termites
Dampwood termites are less common than subterranean and drywood termites, but they can still cause significant damage to homes and buildings. As their name suggests, dampwood termites are attracted to moist wood and other materials.
Dampwood termites feed on wood that is high in moisture content, such as logs, stumps, and fallen trees. They are also known to feed on structural lumber that has been damaged by water or moisture.
The Diet of Formosan Termites
Formosan termites are a particularly destructive species of termite that is native to Asia but has spread to other parts of the world, including the United States. Like subterranean termites, Formosan termites live in underground colonies and build mud tubes to access their food sources.
Formosan termites feed on a variety of materials, including wood, paper, cardboard, and even living plants. They are particularly attracted to structures that have been built with untreated wood or have high levels of moisture.
How Diet Affects Termite Behavior
The diet of termites can have a significant impact on their behavior and the damage they cause. For example, subterranean termites that are feeding on damp or decaying wood may be more likely to invade a home or building if the structure has a leaky roof or other sources of moisture.
Similarly, drywood termites that are feeding on furniture or other wooden objects may be more difficult to detect than subterranean termites because they do not build mud tubes and can live inside the wood itself.
Understanding what termites eat is an important part of preventing termite infestations and minimizing damage. By taking steps to eliminate sources of moisture and removing potential food sources from around your home or building, you can help reduce the risk of a termite infestation.
Termites are known for their ability to cause significant damage to homes and buildings, but not all species of termites feed on wood alone. Subterranean termites primarily feed on wood, while drywood termites feed on dry wood and dampwood termites are attracted to moist wood. Formosan termites are particularly destructive and will feed on a variety of materials, including living plants.
Understanding what termites eat is an important part of preventing infestations and minimizing damage. By taking steps to eliminate sources of moisture and removing potential food sources from around your home or building, you can help reduce the risk of a termite infestation and protect your property from damage.