What Do Termites Eat? A Guide to Their Preferred Diet

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What Do Termites Look Like in Melbourne?

You may already have your suspicions that a termite is tucking into your home, or have dealt with termites in a previous house and are now wondering how to keep them at bay in your new property.

But what do termites eat exactly?

Termites which are known to be some of the most destructive pests when they invade homes, also play a vital role in the Australian ecosystem. Understanding their diet and learning “what do termites eat” is key to effective termite management and protecting your property.

What Do Termites Eat Primarily?

Consider this informative blog a gourmet menu of all things termites do and don’t love to sink their teeth (or mandibles) into. If you’re struggling with termites, or are trying to prevent them from attacking your home, learning their diet will help you understand where the problem could lie when calling in the termite control specialists to get rid of the pesky critters.

So, let’s find out the answer to the question ‘what do termites eat’.

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Why Do Termites Eat Wood?

The main element regarding “what do termites eat” and their preferred diet of wood or grass. 

Termite colonies feed on this natural substance because it contains cellulose – which is a dense carbohydrate that contains the energy they need. Because of a unique symbiotic relationship with gut bacteria, termites can break down and absorb these nutrients. 

But that’s not the end of it: the termites then use digested wood to build tunnels and chambers in their colonies that are unique to the species.

Essentially, termites make their homes out of the wood they’re consuming. So unlike other household pests, you’re likely to find a termite colony made from the very wood they’re destroying. And that’s why the damage can sometimes be so hard to find – as it’s all happening inside a wooden fixture, leaving a hollow exterior that can cost thousands of dollars to fix if left untreated or unnoticed.

what do termites eat and their preferred diet

Do termites eat hardwood?

Yes – termites will happily feast on the hardwood used to construct your wooden flooring, frame work, bannisters, fences and many other timbers used in the construction of your home. If your house features a lot of hardwood, then you have a genuine risk of termites making themselves at home, which can cause serious structural damage to your property.

Do termites eat treated pine?

Termites are pretty determined creatures, and they can chew through plastic and in spaces lacking chemical treatments on most woods. But in general, treated pine is much less susceptible to termite infestation than hardwood. That’s why we highly recommend making sure pine has been treated by a professional to ensure even coverage.

What other wood do termites eat?

Those worth a special mention are the timbers commonly used in Australian building construction. You’ll be more likely to find termite damage in structures and wooden furniture made from these wood varieties.

  • Radiata pine
  • Tassie oak (Victoria or Tasmanian ash)
  • OB hardwoods (a mix of eucalyptus hardwoods, such a obliqua and messmate)
  • Oregon (one of their favourites)
  • Meranti

Can Termites Eat Concrete?

Finally – something termites can’t eat! 

Concrete provides no nutritional value for termites, so it’s not on their menu. However, they will still crawl through existing tiny gaps in concrete in search of their next meal. So, although spotting termite or termite colonies crawling through concrete in your home might not be cause for immediate concern, there is a strong possibility they’re heading to some tasty wood elsewhere, and it might be worth calling in the experts for a thorough property inspection.

Is There Any Wood That Termites Don’t Eat?

Don’t be put off from having any wooden furniture, ornaments or decoration in your home whatsoever simply because of the risk of termites. Most modern termite management can protect a home to a very high degree.

But, to save the hassle altogether, is there any wood safe from termites?

Is There Any Wood That Termites Don’t Eat?

Common timbers used in Australian construction

  • Merbu
  • Cypress pine
  • Baltic pine
  • Cedar

These timbers are ‘resistant’ to termites in the sense that they are not heavily susceptible to termite damage. However, structures  made from these timbers can still be damaged by other pests that look like termites, as well as termites themselves, so it’s always recommended to call in for a semi-regular termite inspection.

what do termites eat

The Final Word On What Do Termites Eat

We’ve covered the many different types of wood you will find on a termite’s dietary preferences and what do termites eat preferably, and it’s safe to say that they’re not all that fussy, though hardwood is definitely one of their favourite choices.

If you’re struggling with termites in your home, or simply want a thorough sweep to put your mind at rest and learn how best to protect your wooden furniture or structural integrity, our expert team are here to do just that. We offer comprehensive property inspections, as well as complimentary consultations to discuss your ideal termite treatment plan if we do discover termites on your property. Get in touch today by reaching out online or giving us a call on 1300 695 949.

We’ll get your termite problem treated quickly and efficiently, and make sure those hungry termites don’t come back for seconds.

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