Termites are social insects that usually measure between 4-15 mm and have a social system that’s very similar to other colonial insects, such as bees and ants, except for the fact that the king is the one ruling them.
These flexible and resilient creatures have found their way onto every continent globally, save for Antarctica, with thousands of different species classified. So, today, we’ll discuss these creatures and their effect on the wood in our homes.
Yes, all termites eat the wood in their quest for cellulose’s most abundant organic compound. Although there are so many species and subspecies of termites, the common denominator between them is wood. And as different species eat different types of food, the infestation you might have could be a subterranean termite infestation, a Drywood termite infestation, or a dampwood termite infestation.
Dampwood Termites Vs. Drywood Termites Vs. Subterranean Termites
We’ve briefly mentioned the three most common types of termites. So, let’s expand a bit further on the differences between them regarding where they live, what wood they prefer, and where they’re usually found.
- Dampwood Termites – Kalotermitidae and Hodotermitidae
- Drywood Termites – Kalotermitidae
- Subterranean Termites – Rhinotermitidae
- Dampwood Termites – High-moisture wood
- Drywood Termites – Timber and hardwood
- Subterranean Termites – Soil
- Dampwood Termites – Western States; California, Ohio
- Drywood Termites – Pacific coastal region connecting to the Central Valley and Southern California deserts
- Subterranean Termites – USA, minus Alaska
Do Termites Eat All Wood?
You might be wondering if there’s a type of wood that’s immune to termite infestations or if termite swarmers can eat and digest hardwood floors the same way they would structural timbers, tree stumps, woodpiles, and even furniture.
You might also be wondering what kind of property damage would termite infestations inflict on the wood in your home and if these household pests see all wooden structures as one.
Some tree types are entirely resistant to all termite species. That is, of course, while the trees are alive. When a tree dies and decay starts to occur, its hardwood turns into softwood, which termites prefer.
Nonetheless, some tree stumps and types are naturally susceptible to termite colonies, thus making pest control a much more complicated task.
So, to help you avoid pest problems as much as possible, here’s a rundown of the timbers and woodpiles that termites feed on and those that are immune to termite damage.
In general, termite swarmers, soldier termites, and the termite queen and kings will eat wood if it isn’t covered or protected by any layer. They’d eat anything wood, including the home’s framing, cell walls, and even furniture; but some of the most termite-susceptible woods are:
- Structural Timbers
As we’ve mentioned, some types of wood have natural protection against termites, which prevents the worker termites from reaching the food source inside of them. In addition, nowadays, the wood used in your home is always covered with layers of protection against all pests, which is sure to end any termite activity before it starts. Some of the naturally termite-immune woods are:
- Pressure-treated lumbar
If, against your best efforts, termites do find their way into your home, how do you figure it out, and how do you get rid of them? Let’s find out.
What Are The Signs Of Termites In Your Home?
Everyone should know by heart that if you find signs of termites, you definitely have them. And if you don’t, you might still have them!
Here’s a list of the definite signs of termites. And, If you check even one item on this list, you need to put pest control on your top priorities and pest experts on your speed dial.
You’ll find piles of wings near the wood in your home! Let’s explain how that happens. Termites spend their lives trying to find food, sharing it, and waiting to mate. Once they’ve mated, they twist their wings off, as they won’t ever fly again, leaving you this beautiful gift to find.
One important thing to keep in mind is that flying ants do exist, and they, too, drop their wings. Consequently, you need to learn the difference between ants’ wings and termites wings. All four wings are the same size in termites, while ants have a larger front pair and a smaller dorsal one.
Since these insects spend their lives looking for cellulose, you’ll find multiple holes and grooves in your wood.
If you’re dealing with subterranean termites that have contact with the soil, you’ll notice the abundance of mud tubes present between the soil and your home. Termites use these pencil-sized tubes as service areas that transport them from one place to another.
Termites eat the cellulose in the wood, so they excrete wood. Their feces resembles sawdust, so if you find tiny mountains of sawdust near something wooden, know that a termite colony has been working its magic.
Sometimes, termites manage to find a way to the cellulose from down under.
In other words, they don’t make a groove in the wood; they slip through any available openings, then they start eating the cellulose from the inside out. This creates blisters on the top layer of the wood, as it’s vacant from the inside.
How Do I Get Rid of Termites Eating Wood?
Even if the termites have found their way into your home, all isn’t lost. You can still carry on with your pest control and try to salvage whatever is salvageable.
Termites eat wood looking for cellulose. So, we need to focus on getting them out of the wood then coating it with some sort of protective layer.
Furthermore, any termite colony looks for moisture, and they need a dark place to protect them from your pest control. So, look for them in moist, dark areas and try these simple homemade steps to counter moisture throughout your house.
If you’re building a house, doing some renovations, or just starting to look for a new home, you might want to protect it from the beginning. How can you do that?
By extending the buffer area between soil/mud and your home. In other words, make sure you have a significant patio area on the front and back yards so they prevent the termites from migrating from the soil or the trees towards the wood inside of your house.
Some people think that just because termites can chew through many materials, they can go through concrete, but they can’t; the phrase “termites eat concrete” is a myth.
Moisture is vital to any termite colony. It helps them work, reproduce, and feed better. Consequently, getting rid of moisture around your house, specifically around your furniture and wood, would detrimentally reduce the chances of getting wood termites.
That can be done through the use of dehumidifiers or simply through sunlight exposure. So, if you have a piece of furniture with termites in it, put it in direct sunlight; it’ll dry the moisture out, thus removing termites.
If you’ve seen anyone extracting a warm or a maggot from any creature, you’ll know that the first step is to close the opening and seal it to cut off all oxygen. That’ll make the warm pop out to take a breath.
The same thing goes for termites; seal the holes they’ve created with neem or orange oil, and termites will start to suffocate and try to escape.
Creating a borax solution and spraying it on the grooves will kill the termites present in your furniture. Just make sure to apply the solution a few times, and you’ll be good to go. And there’s no need to worry because borax isn’t toxic.
Cardboard Box Trick
Last but not least, we have the cardboard trick. Termites can chew through anything that has cellulose in it, and cardboard has precisely that.
So, what we do is dampen a cardboard box to enhance the smell, then place it in an area infested with termites. The scent will attract them, and they’ll migrate to the cardboard box, which you can then discard somewhere far from home.
You can also combine this technique with other techniques to optimize your pest control methods!
How Termites Work
It’s a well-known fact that most creatures can’t digest cellulose, as their stomachs don’t contain the proper enzymes for that. Termites are no exception; they need some help to turn the main component of their diet into simple sugars.
This help they’ll find at the hands of the protozoa and bacteria, with whom they share a symbiotic relationship.
Termites carry the weight of these protozoa and bacteria; they protect them and provide them with shelter and food. In exchange, protozoa break down the cellulose into simple sugars that termites can absorb.
To recap, yes, all termites eat wood. No matter where they come from or where they live, they feed on wood and other materials that contain cellulose. In addition, there are specific symptoms of these termites that can help you catch termite activity early on. And if you do catch wood termites in your home, don’t panic; your wood can still be saved.