Termite Eating Habits: What do Termites Eat?

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Termites eat wood. Who doesn’t know that? In fact, they can gobble down up to 15-lbs of wood in a month. And when left ignored or uncontrolled, these wood-loving pests may literally eat a whole house down.

But did you know that aside from furniture and other wooden materials, termites feed on any product that contains cellulose? These stuff can be anywhere from paper, carpet, cardboard, and books. Plant products like cotton and other plant fibres also provide nourishment to termites. In some city districts, termites are reported to chomp on other materials, such as flooring and window sills. Wherever cellulose is present, you can most likely find termites. Our surroundings thrive from termite invasion because termites devour dead trees/branches, and plant debris that turns into humus.

Now, how do termites process cellulose? Their digestive system has microorganisms that break down these cellulose or fibres from the food they eat, and then convert them to nutrients that are essential for the termites’ growth and maintenance. Like most living things, termites cannot survive without water; thus, they will constantly search for some source of moisture to survive. In fact, they need water every few hours to continue feeding—no wonder they love leaky faucets and damp areas.

Do they have any favourite food? As mentioned earlier, they eat anything that contains cellulose. Nevertheless, their most loved food is wood—the more rotten, the better. Termites can easily digest wood, and the fungi found in decayed wood are incredible sources of nitrogen, which is vital for the termites’ development.

How do termites hunt for food? The worker termites are responsible for finding and gathering food for the entire colony. When a worker termite locates a food supply, it leaves a trail of scent to direct other worker termites. Since termites do not have compound eyes like other insects, they use other senses in food hunting. Also, without the workers bringing back food, the colony will die—the reproductives (king and queen) and soldiers will not search for food, and will perish instead.

Learning about the eating habits of termites can help you plan ways of treating these insatiable pests. Remember that termites can rapidly produce new colonies when provided with suitable breeding grounds and nutrition. If you suspect you have termites, it’s best to contact a professional pest controller for an immediate inspection.


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