The longstanding war between man and termites continues to rage on. Studies reveal that Australian homes collectively spend about $1.5 billion AUD annually on repairs and damages stemming from termite infestation.
All that damage because termites love wood and they’ll work their way up from your home’s foundation. This could lead to deadly structural damage.
But why do termites eat wood? What do termites eat exactly? Do they eat all kinds of wood or do they have preferences?
Continue reading below as we take a closer look at their favourite targets, what they avoid, and what you can do to protect your home.
What Do Termites Eat: The Primary Options
What do termites eat to be exact? Sure, we know that they love munching on wood. But what is it in wood that attracts termites?
The answer is cellulose.
This is an organic compound that serves as the primary building block of plants. Thus, termites look for this compound in plants, wood, cotton fibres, and paper products.
But are you wondering if termites prefer certain kinds of wood? The answer is yes, they do favour specific wood types. Untreated softwood, specifically Springwood, is one of their favourites.
They also like many untreated hardwoods. Another favourite is gumtree, primarily because this is a natural habitat for termites.
Some termites also prefer particle boards. If you have some at home, make sure they are not damp or swollen, as they tend to attract termites when they’re not dry. But this doesn’t mean they won’t target dry wood.
Some termites love hardwood floors, bannisters, and smooth and dry furniture. The same thing goes for your home’s structural timbers and framing.
Last but not least, expect termites to feast on your paper-based items. These include your plasterboard lining paper and sheetrock. The sheetrock wall features paper that lines up the front.
This paper comes with cellulose that attracts termites.
The Secondary Targets
Apart from the types of wood we discussed above, termites also have a secondary list of favourites. Do termites eat cedar? No, at least at first.
But when cedarwood begins to break down, they become part of termites’ targets. Furthermore, termites also go for redwood tree timber, cypress tree wood, and teak.
Take note that these three types of wood come with natural termite deterrents. This is the very reason why they belong to the category of secondary targets.
But among their secondary preferences, it is plywood that they like best. As long as the plywood does not undergo pressure-treatment, it is a viable target for termites.
What They Avoid
If termites love certain wood types, they also hate a few. Bamboo is one of those that termites look to avoid. This is because of the bamboo’s brittle outer shell. This shell makes it hard for termites to chew on them.
OSB or oriented strand board is another one termites do not bother targeting. OSB features cement-bonded wood strands that termites cannot chew.
Now you may ask, “Will termites eat treated wood?”
The answer is Yes. Pressure-treated timber, for example, comes with chemicals that fend-off termites, but if the treated timber starts to decay the termites will turn it into their snack
Manufacturers spray or dip these timbers with anti-pesticides, antifungals, and preservatives that will only deter termites.
Other types of wood show resistance against termites. An example is a Peruvian walnut. Another is the Honduran mahogany, which naturally resists termites.
Some people also have the misconception that termites chew on concrete. This is because they see termites crawling through the concrete cracks. They believe the termites created the cracks.
In reality, the cracks were already there even before the termites found their way to your home. They only happen to pass through them in search of wood.
What They Can Do to Your Home
With termites feasting on your home’s wooden areas and items, they leave both short-term and long-term damages. As termites start to infest your home, they enter the cracks on your floors and foundations.
They can also create shelter tubes from the ground. They use these tubes as a pathway toward areas in your house with damp wood.
Once they start chewing on the wood, they will slowly weaken your home’s support capabilities. With a compromised foundation, you may reach a point where you have to spend thousands on repairs.
Further down the line, you will also have a hard time selling your house. Prospective buyers may have apprehensions in buying a property that has a history of termites. If you don’t find a reputable pest control service, you may not completely eradicate the termites.
The termites will only reproduce and continue with their wood-chewing ways.
What You Can Do About It
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to address or even prevent termites from terrorizing your property. For starters, you need to resolve any moisture problems in and around your house. When moisture reaches the wooden parts in your house, expect the termites to follow.
Don’t take minor leaks on your water pipes and faucets lightly. Call a plumber immediately if you can’t quickly solve the problem yourself. Also, ensure that you don’t have any standing water inside your property. Check the area surrounding your home’s foundation.
Make sure the drainage is working too. Stagnant water can cause all sorts of pest problems, termites included.
If you have stacks of paper, lumber, or firewood, store them properly. Keep them away from your home’s crawl space and foundation.
If you have wooden fences or decks, examine them regularly for any damages. Also, don’t let wood create contact with soil.
Furthermore, watch out for signs of termite infestation. Check your drywall for any pin-sized holes with mud covering. Check your wood items for any mud tubes.
If you’re unsure about a given piece of wood, tap it and listen for a hollow sound. Check your windows and doors for any jams as well; this can be the signs pests are up to no good.
If you see or experience these signs, don’t hesitate to call a professional termite inspector. The longer you wait, the bigger the problem can become.
Get Rid of Those Pests, Today!
Now that you can answer the question of what do termites eat, you can better determine how to address the presence of termites in your home. But if things become too much to handle, we will gladly extend a helping hand.
Call us today and tell us about your situation. We offer professional inspections and termite control services for residential and commercial clients. Let’s deal with your termite problems safely and effectively, today!