Termites: What They Eat And How To Stop Them

Termites may be small, but they can pose a significant threat to the structural integrity of buildings and homes. These tiny insects are known for their ability to break down cellulose, which is found in wood and tree roots. However, termites are not picky eaters and will consume other materials as well.

This article delves into the dietary habits of termites, as well as prevention techniques and pest control options that can be employed to stop them in their tracks.

Understanding the dietary habits of termites is crucial for preventing infestations in homes and buildings. These insects are attracted to wood and other materials that contain cellulose. However, they can also feed on items such as paper, cardboard, and even insulation.

It is important to note that termites can cause extensive damage to a structure over time, which can be expensive to repair. Therefore, it is essential to identify the signs of termite infestations and take appropriate measures to prevent them from occurring.

This article will provide readers with the necessary information to protect their homes and property from these pesky insects.

Key Takeaways

  • Termites are attracted to wood and tree roots due to cellulose, which is broken down by bacterial protozoa in their stomachs.
  • While they will not eat through concrete, they can crawl through cracks in search of wood and can also chew through plastic barriers.
  • Plywood contains cellulose and can be eaten, but pressure treatment can prevent this. Particle board is a favorite food for termites, especially when wet.
  • Using the right materials when building can prevent termite infestation, with pressure-treated lumber being the best defense.

Dietary Habits

The breakdown of termites’ dietary habits reveals their attraction to materials containing cellulose, such as wood, plywood, sheetrock, and particle board. Their ability to feed exclusively on dry, smooth wood makes them a significant threat to any wooden structure or furniture.

Termites’ nutritional requirements are met through the breakdown of cellulose in their stomachs, which is facilitated by bacterial protozoa. This process enables them to extract nutrients from the cellulose, which is the primary component of their diet.

Termites’ attraction to cellulose-based materials makes it crucial to understand their dietary habits when constructing a building or furniture. Knowing which materials termites are attracted to, and which are unpalatable to them, is essential for prevention and control measures.

It is also essential to note that termites can still invade and cause damage to materials like concrete, which they cannot eat, by crawling through any cracks to reach their desired wood source.

Prevention Techniques

Effective prevention techniques include using appropriate materials during construction to deter termite infestations. Choosing pressure-treated lumber for building structures, using cement-bonded oriented strand board (OSB), and avoiding particle board can significantly reduce the risk of termite damage.

Additionally, regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and address any potential issues before they become major problems.

For those looking for natural remedies and DIY solutions, there are a few options to consider. Some natural deterrents include cedar and redwood, which can be used in the form of mulch or as building materials. Orange oil, made from the rinds of oranges, has also been shown to have some effectiveness in killing termites.

However, it is important to note that these natural remedies may not be as effective as chemical treatments and should not be relied upon as the sole method of prevention. Consulting with a pest control professional can provide additional guidance on the most effective prevention techniques for a specific situation.

Pest Control Options

Pest control options vary and can be overwhelming, ranging from chemical treatments to natural remedies, leaving homeowners feeling uncertain about the best course of action to eradicate these destructive and invasive insects. Chemical treatments, such as soil treatments and bait systems, are commonly used to eliminate termites. Soil treatments involve applying a liquid termiticide to the soil around the foundation of the home, creating a barrier that prevents termites from entering. Bait systems, on the other hand, involve placing bait stations around the perimeter of the home and monitoring them for termite activity. Once a termite is detected, a toxic bait is introduced to the colony, ultimately eliminating the entire colony.

Natural remedies, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly popular due to their eco-friendliness and effectiveness. These remedies include orange oil, borax, and neem oil. Orange oil is derived from orange peels and contains d-limonene, a compound that kills termites on contact. Borax, a common household cleaner, can be mixed with water and applied to the wood to kill termites. Neem oil, derived from the neem tree, disrupts the hormonal system of termites, ultimately killing them. While natural remedies may take longer to work, they are a safer and more sustainable option for homeowners. Ultimately, the best course of action for termite control will depend on the severity of the infestation and the homeowner’s personal preferences.

Treatment Type Pros Cons
Chemical – Quick and effective – May require professional application
– Can eliminate entire colonies – Harmful to the environment
– Long-lasting protection – May harm beneficial insects
Natural – Eco-friendly – May take longer to work
– Safe for humans and pets – May require multiple applications
– Sustainable – May not eliminate entire colonies

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do termites typically live?

The average lifespan of termites varies depending on caste and species, ranging from a few months to several years. Reproductive termites can live up to 20 years, while workers have a shorter lifespan of 1-2 years.

Can termites cause any health problems for humans?

While termites do not pose direct health risks to humans, the structural damage they inflict can lead to costly repairs and potential hazards. Prevention through effective termite control methods is crucial to mitigate the risks of infestation.

Do termites prefer certain types of wood over others?

Termites have wood preferences, with some species preferring certain types over others. Preventative measures, such as using pressure-treated lumber or naturally-resistant woods, can help deter termites from infesting and damaging wooden structures.

What time of year are termites most active?

Termites are most active in the spring and summer months, but can be active year-round in warmer climates. Preventive measures include regular inspections and addressing any signs of termite activity, such as discarded wings and mud tubes.

How do termites communicate with each other?

Termites communicate with each other through pheromone signals, which alert the colony to danger or the presence of food. These signals can alter behavior patterns, such as the direction of foraging and the allocation of resources.


Termites are a common household pest that can cause significant damage to your property. Understanding their dietary habits and prevention techniques is essential to stop them from infesting your home.

Termites feed on wood, tree roots, and other materials that contain cellulose. However, they are not picky eaters and will consume anything that contains cellulose, including paper, books, and even insulation.

Prevention techniques involve eliminating moisture and sealing cracks in your home’s foundation. Using treated wood and installing physical barriers can also help prevent termites from entering your home. Regular inspections by a licensed pest control professional can help identify early signs of infestation and prevent further damage to your property.

According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause over $5 billion in property damage each year in the United States alone. This staggering statistic highlights the importance of taking preventative measures to protect your home from these destructive insects. By understanding their dietary habits and implementing prevention techniques, you can stop termites in their tracks and save yourself from costly repairs.

Recommended Articles

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.